If you believe in the classical understanding of liberal tradition then if you do not believe in an idea in a book then writing a counter to that book is considered as the ideal strategy. But the liberals of present day are the biggest enemies of the true liberal ethos and the recent controversy pertaining to a book on Delhi Riots again proved this fact.
Giving in to pressure from the nexus of Jihadi and Naxal elements, Bloomsbury India has decided to withdraw publication of a book on Delhi anti-Hindu riots which aimed to question the Jihadi-Naxal narrative of the February 2020 Delhi riots. The book ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’ authored by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra was slated to be published by Bloomsbury India. However, when the book launch event was announced by the authors which was to be attended by them along with film director Vivek Angihotri, OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma, BJP leader Kapil Mishra, the Jihadi-Naxal combine along with Congress supporters went on a overdrive to pressurise the publishing house to withdraw the book.
Consequently, Bloomsbury India withdrew the publication of the book falling to the threats of the Jihadis and Naxals who are opposed to free speech. In a statement, the publication house cited a ‘virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors’ as one of the reasons for its decision. Bloomsbury India said that they had planned to release the book, a factual account based on investigation and interviews conducted by the authors, in September 2020 but they have rescinded their decision.
The publication house further added, “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.” Even as Bloomsbury informed them that they are withdrawing the book, it was marked as unavailable on e-commerce site Amazon. Before that, the book was available for pre-order, and a large number of people had pre-ordered the book ahead of its planned launch in next month. However, the pre-launch event went ahead as scheduled and attended by the authors and other prominent people.
Earlier to the decision by Bloomsbury India, to withdraw the book came after a mob consisting of Jihadi-Naxal and Congress supporters pressurised the publication house to not to publish the book. The mob was led by people such as controversial actress Swara Bhaskar, Congress supporter Saket Gokhale, Left author Meena Kandasamy, Hindubhopic journalists’ like Hartosh Singh Bal, anti-India author Rana Ayyub, among others.
The South Asia Solidarity Initiative, which has links to Islamists, also jumped on the bandwagon to bully Bloomsbury India into withdrawing the book. It had recently protested against ‘Hindu fascists’ at Times Square in New York on the occasion of the Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan.
The irony is that the same publishers continues to flaunt a book on Shaheen Bagh protest, which were based on fictional issue and the original cause for the riots but refuse to carry out the fact-based story narrated by the other side.
Massive Support and Outrage
Perturbed by the move to take back the book by Bloomsbury India and attack on free speech, many prominent Indian authors have hit back at the publication house for the retrograde move. Authors like Sanjeev Sanyal, Sandeep Deo, Sanjay Dixit and Anand Ranganathan said that they would never publish their books with Bloomsbury India.
The launch event that was to be attended by the authors and other prominent people
"I have not read the book in question & have no idea if it is good or bad. However, this is obviously not a quality control problem but about censorship. I commit to never publish a book with @BloomsburyIndia", wrote Sanjeev Sanyal on Twitter.
"As a writer for @BloomsburyIndia, I declare the withdrawal of all my books from #bloomsburyindia which under pressure from the left lobby has canceled the publication of a book on #DelhiRiots2020. It is a killing of ideas", wrote author Sandeep Deo.
Retired IAS officer and author Sanjay Dixit expressed his protest against the withdrawal of the book by ending his relationship with them. "This censorship by @BloomsburyIndia is unacceptable. I do hereby announce that I am ending my relationship with them, and will send Bloomsbury a notice to withdraw my book 'Nullifying Article 370 and Enacting CAA' due to be released on Sep 20, 2020. Let them paint themselves Red", he tweeted.
JNU Scientist, author and TV panelist Anand Ranganathan expressed his displeasure by tweeting "If Bloomsbury does not retract its decision, my co-author and I have decided that we will return the substantial advance paid to us by Bloomsbury for our forthcoming book. We cannot allow our book to be published by a house that does not respect Freedom of Expression."
In a thread exposing the Left controlled publishing industry in the country behind such moves, senior journalist and author Kanchan Gupta wrote about the way Bloomsbury was always biased towards politically correct books by #LeftLiberal authors. "Loathsome 'cancel culture' rears its unsightly head in #India as @BloomsburyIndia dumps book on Delhi riot under pressure from bully #LeftLiberal activists and Islamists. Book was due to be published in September. This is a new low. All who believe in freedom should protest", he wrote.
Further exposing the Left cabal of the English language publishing industry in the country, Kanchan Gupta wrote "The English language publishing industry was never fair. It was always biased towards politically correct books by #LeftLiberal authors. @BloomsburyIndia has now shown the English-language publishers what they are: a spineless lot willing to crawl and be used as doormats. At another time in another era libraries like Nalanda were ransacked and books destroyed by invaders. Less than a 100 years ago we saw libraries being destroyed and books being burned by Nazis."
Many have come in support of the authors and have also lambasted Bloomsbury India for chickening out due to pressure and curbing free speech. Prominent publishing house Garuda Prakashan have come in support of the authors of the book on DelhiRiots2020. "Garuda Prakashan stands for bringing out books based on authentic facts. If the author @advmonikaarora ji of the book in question gets in touch with us, we will take it up further", it wrote.
One of India's top most literary fests, Mangaluru Lit Fest has also come in support of the book on Delhi riots and its authors. "While we cherish dialogues, discussions & debates with literature as foundation; FOE is pushed into stake today with #BloomsburyIndia buckling to threat of fascists & silence voice of authors of "Delhi Riots 2020" by withdrawing from publishing! Selectively Bloom-Conveniently Bury?", it wrote on Twitter.
"By withdrawing a book that had almost made it to bookshelves, @BloomsburyIndia has revealed the dirty nexus between these publishing houses and the Left-Pseudo Liberals in this country. It's for the readers to decide. Here, publishers decide to destroy? We stand by the author of the book and in solidarity condemn the withdrawal by @BloomsburyIndia. A publishing house that dares not stand up for it's own choice has no business being in the business of books!", Mangaluru Lit Fest tweeted further.
Authors of the book formally asked the publishers to comunicate the postition
Breach of Contract
Bloomsbury India on August 22 had declared that it is pulling out of publishing a book on Delhi anti-Hindu riots which countered the popular narrative fostered by the Left and Islamist cabal and media favorable to them. Now, the authors of the book Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar, Prerna Malhotra have shot-off a letter to the publisher questioning their intent behind dumping the book, breach of contract, unethical and unprofessional conduct.
In their letter, the authors wrote they were shocked and had requested them to not withdraw as a publisher of the book under pressure from those who have not even seen the book or read the book and may be who are driven by an agenda and do not want the book to see the light of the day and the truth of Delhi Riots to come out before the people of India. Except showing their helplessness and being under tremendous pressure, no other reason was given by them for the drastic step.
The authors noted that the book which was available for pre-booking on Amazon was immediately removed despite receiving numerous orders from the readers. "People also started tweeting and putting the screen shots that it had become the number 1 bestseller on Amazon in the category Political Freedom and Security category. Thousands of people wanted to read the book but the book was unavailable", says the letter.
Exposing BloomsburyIndia's lack of professional conduct while withdrawing the book, the author write that Bloomsbury had over the past 3 months communicated with them through e- mails, SMS , Whatsapp and they had also finalized the draft of the book. "You the publisher mutually suggested many changes and all were incorporated in the final draft which the authors finalized and as publisher you approved. You Bloomsbury emailed the final draft to us. You Bloomsbury went ahead with the publication, published the books and gave us 100 hard copies. We have sent these copies throughout India to our well- wishers, renowned authors, media persons, social media influencers and other such intellectuals for review of this book.", write the authors.
Writing about the online book launch event which caused consternation in the Jihadi-Naxal camp, the authors write that the launch was planned by them as it was a GIA (Group of Intellectuals and Academicians) program, the invitation of which was put in public domain. "You had full knowledge of this book launch and the guest list. You never objected orally or in writing regarding the guest list or the launch event. But what happened? You Bloomsbury are such a renowned publisher who has published books like Harry Potter", say the authors.
"This is breach of contract, unethical and unprofessional conduct. This will invite Civil and Criminal Liability and you will be liable to pay damages to the authors for damaging their reputation, disowning them publicly, causing mental agony to not only the authors but to millions of people who believed in you, who wanted to order the book, read the book and who wasted their time and energy on Amazon, searching and pre ordering the book which you have withdrawn without information to the authors and thereby made unavailable. AND all the above was done without a simple email to the authors officially informing that you are withdrawing as a publisher and from the contract", says their letter.
Writing about the intent behind withdrawing the book abruptly, the authors say that withdrawing minutes before its launching, removing the link from Amazon so that people cannot place orders, not communicating to the authors about the status of their hard work approved ad published by you as 100 copies supplied and not communicating to the authors eve 24 hours after you dumped them is nothing less than a conspiracy to kill the book.
"On our behalf please inform Bloomsbury UK not to succumb under international pressure of agenda drive lobbies. if Internationally Black lives matter than in India Black lives matter and Brown lives matter too. May I add Brown women matter too", says the letter. Advocate and one of the authors Monika Arora wrote "@BloomsburyIndia Don't dump yr authors. We deserve at least an email from u that u have abandoned us & yr book. #DelhiRiotsTheUntoldStory U have removed it from all platforms. People can't read. Will international activists decide what Indians will read? Even #brownlivesmatter" on twitter.
They had requested a reply from BloomsburyIndia by 4 PM today. However, despite the letter from the authors and the social media campaign, Bloomsbury India neither responded to the authors nor given any statement over several authors boycotting them by the stipulated time. "No response from @BloomsburyIndia. No written communication to authors despite request. Our book can't be killed. People want to buy. We have no option but to go with another publisher. Nation must know truth of #DelhiRiotsTheUntoldStory. Pls suggest names of publishers", tweeted Monika Arora hours after they had written the letter to Bloomsbury.
The authors have also indicated that their letter will be followed by a legal action against Bloomsbury India.
The chickening out under Jihadi-Naxal pressure by Bloomsbury India was criticised by everyone across the board. Several popular authors hit back with a vow never to publish their books with Bloomsbury.
Conincidentally, Garuda Prakashan has declared that it will be publishing the book dumped by Bloomsbury India.
"It's official now: @GarudaPrakashan is going to bring the book of @advmonikaarora ji, #DelhiRiotsUntoldStory in English and Hindi both. Pre-buy links will be shared with you soon. Keep following us! Thank you all for putting your trust in Garuda", the publishing house tweeted on Sunday.