After Kapil Mishra controversy Bloomsbury withdraws book on Delhi riots

"This book has blood on its hands,” said Sudhanva Deshpande who runs Leftword Books.

New Delhi: Bloomsbury Books India announced on Saturday afternoon that it is withdrawing release of a book on the Delhi riots that has courted controversy, especially after it was announced that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra – who allegedly played a leading role in riots – would be the guest of honour at the book launch.

The launch of book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story also included a slew of other right-wing activists. The launch event took place despite the publishing house’s decision, The Wire reported.

“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,” the publishing house said in a statement.

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“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,” the publisher reportedly said to The Wire.

Social media showed massive outrage soon after the publishing house announced the release of book adding that Kapil Mishra will be invited to at the launch event. Authors, publishers and human rights activists had criticised Bloomsbury. The hashtag #ShameOnBloomsbury began to trend at #30 at around 4 pm.

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.”

Author of the book Sonali Malhotra said ‘Jihadist-Naxal’ conspiracy was behind the riots.

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