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After Backlash, Bloomsbury India Withdraws Book On Delhi Pogrom, Which Criminalizes Victims

After being slammed for publishing a book on the 2020 Delhi pogrom, which puts forth an anti-Muslim narrative, Bloomsbury India announced that it has decided to withdraw the publication of the book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story by Advocate Monica Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra.

The book attracted public ire on social media when news of its launch was announced. It was further reported that the launch would be attended by BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who made inflammatory statements and speeches, which lead to the violence, film director Vivek Agnihotri, fake news peddling website OpIndia editor Nupur J Sharma and the authors. Presence of the speakers triggered a controversy, with authors, actors, intellectuals, journalists and others criticising the publishing house for furthering a communal agenda.

Sudhanva Deshpande, who runs LeftWord Books, released a statement saying that the book itself, and not just the event involving Mishra, was the problem.

“I’m asking Bloomsbury, as a leading publisher, to ask itself what editorial protocols permit such a book to be published in such a short time? Are you as publisher not responsible for at least elementary fact-checking? Are you as publisher not culpable in playing a part in the architecture of terror being created and deployed by the State and non-State actors to punish the victims of violence, and those who stand up for them?

Make no mistake about it. This book has nothing to do with the pursuit of knowledge, in which differences of opinion and interpretation are not just desirable, but essential. This book is part of a multi-pronged attack on India’s secular fabric, on the idea of natural justice, on ethics, on rationality, on humanity, and, because we are talking in a publishing context, on knowledge itself.

This book has blood on its hands.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, Bloomsbury India said it is withdrawing publication of the book ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’.

Bloomsbury India said they had planned to release the book ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’ in September.

“However, in view of very recent events, including a virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the publishers would not have approved, we have decided to withdraw publication of the book,” Bloomsbury India said in its statement.

The publisher added that it “strongly supports” freedom of speech but also has a “deep sense of responsibility towards society”.

“Bloomsbury India had planned to release Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story in September, a book purportedly giving a factual report on the riots in Delhi in February 2020, based on investigations and interviews conducted by the authors. However, in view of very recent events including a virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the Publishers would not have approved, we have decided to withdraw publication of the book. Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.”

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