Bloomsbury India withdraws publication of one sided book on Delhi Riots, after outrage

The book claims to tell the ‘Untold Story’, just 6 months after the communal violence, even though matter is subjudice 

delhi riots

“Bloomsbury, you can still salvage something here. Say you made a mistake and withdraw the book. Otherwise, really, your reputation is in the sewer” Delhi based Sudhanva Deshpande, LeftWord Books offered sage advice to Bloomsbury India which had  published ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’. Hours After scores of activists, authors, journalists, readers shared concerns about such a one sided book, the publishers withdrew it. However, the withdrawal came after an online launch by the authors, and their supporters.

Bloomsbury India’s withdrawal was first reported by Newslaundry. The publishers seemed to be upset that “a virtual pre-publication launch” was organised and executed without their knowledge “by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the publishers would not have approved”. Here is their statement in full as reported by Newslaundry: “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.”

However they do not explain how and why this ‘book’ was accepted for publication in the first place? Bloomsbury India may not have organised the launch event, but the fact remains that they did publish the book, which may potentially contain unverified information, may incite more hate against a community, endanger individuals, and fuel a further communal divide. It would be interesting to know if fact checkers at Bloomsbury have even verified the contents of the book at any stage. Here are two ready reckoners for them to read: “ North-East Delhi Riots: Minorities Commission investigations reveal role of Delhi Police, politiciansHate Speech by BJP’s Top Brass fuelled Build Up to Delhi Violence: Minorities 

Massive concerns are still being raised about the book, which is most likely to have a one sided narrative, and could potentially be volatile enough to spread more communal hate. In fact the before they officially withdrew the book this was on their page: 


(Source: )

Perhaps for Bloomsbury India, it may have  made business sense to publish ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’. Or was it the sheer prose that convinced the commissioning editors to publish this book on a communal riot, and what led to it, a subject which is still sub judice? Or maybe it was something else? We may never know. 

They had introduced the book, rather its best to call it a sales pitch for potential buyers, as “an explosive revelation of the plot behind the riots, how they were planned and executed, how weapons were procured and stockpiled, and exactly what happened”. How did the authors, there are three, know so much more than the investigators do, at this point? The riots took place in February 2020, the book was launched in August 2020. Quickie, did you say?  

Fact of the carnage and communal bloodbath where mobs targeted innocent Muslims, and some Hindus residing in the densely populated areas of North East Delhi are well recorded in scores of fact finding reports, including one by The Delhi Minorities Commission released recently, thousands of national and international media reports, photographs and video footage. Before they withdrew publication, Bloomsbury India even issued a statement that they were not launching the book, they published and that their logo was misused in this poster which gives pride of place to Kapil Misra, the Delhi politician best known for his hate speeches.  Will they lodge an official complaint about the illegal use of their logo?


Mishra, and his participation was called out, and Bloomsbury India, was altered hours before the event by scores of authors, reviewers, journalists, activists and alert citizens. Objections were raised towards possible hate speech, and falsehoods, of a case which is sub judice, being enshrined in a ‘book’. 




The ‘launch’ did happen as planned, on August 22,  other guests of honour, included Vivek Agnihotri whose biggest achievement has been that he coined the term “Urban Naxal”, and now calls himself a public intellectual. There was Nupur Sharma, who ‘edits’ the right wing portal Opindia, and the book was launched by Bhupendra Yadav, Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, and National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He blamed ‘urban naxals’ and ‘jihadis’ for the Delhi violence, and said the women of Shaheen Bagh did not speak about issues like ‘triple talaq’. He said he agrees with a demand in the book that there should be an investigation into ‘network, funding, favouring one religion,” at the online launch event. 



The book, it may still be published by someone from the Right Wing, is apparently, an “explosive revelation of the plot behind the riots, how they were planned and executed, how weapons were procured and stockpiled, and exactly what happened”. According to the book descriptor it takes a “close look at the background to the carnage-CAA (The Citizen Amendment Act,2019), the unrest and violence in universities and the dharna at Shaheen Bagh and other sites in Delhi.” 

The authors’ descriptions, lead with lawyer Monika Arora, a Supreme Court of India and High Court of Delhi, and the Standing Counsel of Union of India and JNU. She is described as someone who “Through her numerous Public Interest Litigations, she got posters banned in Delhi; she also had defamatory words such as ‘terrorists’ attached to revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh and instead have them referred to as ‘freedom fighters’ in school textbooks; she also sought the rightful place of Sanskrit in Kendriya Vidyalayas. She is a prolific speaker and is committed to social and national causes. She is also the Convener of the Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA).”

The Indian Express publishes her columns, and the last one she wrote was in February 2020, after the Delhi Elections, but before the riots. She had stated, “with the entry of Amit Shah, the issue of Shaheen Bagh came into focus. However, this aggressive campaign was too little, too late.” She said that Arvind Kejriwal won in Delhi because he “cleverly conveyed the message of “Upar Modi, neeche Kejriwal” (Modi at the top/Centre, Kejriwal in Delhi).” This article appeared in the IE print edition on February 15, 2020 under the title “Mirror effect”. 

The other author, Sonali Chitalkar is an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Miranda House University of Delhi. Her author bio states: “her area of specialization is International Relations with a focus on Conflict Resolution. She has been working on the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the last few years as a part of peace facilitation and conflict resolution committee. She has also worked on inter-regional aspirations in Jammu and Kashmir, spent time studying on ground the evolution of politics in the former State. Her doctoral thesis is on Education Policy in Jammu and Kashmir. She is currently working on the framework of an Indic Theory of Gender as part of her interest in Decolonisation of the Indian mind and Indigenous Political Theory.”

The third author is Prerna Malhotra who teaches English at Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi. She is introduced as aco-author and editor of six books, and contributor of articles to numerous journals, newspapers and web-portals on “core and contemporary issues.” She is also said to be a “regular panelist on media debates, a columnist, editor and translator. She has been a member of more than half a dozen FFTs conducted by GIA and other organisations. She is working on a project related to Left-wing Extremism in Bastar, Chhattisgarh.”

It is important to know that this ‘GIA’ is an all-woman Group of Intellectuals and Academicians, who went on fact-finding team to Kathua, after the horrific gang rape and murder of a child . According to a report in The Print, the group “returned with the same demands as the Hindu Ekta Manch,” and on 5 May , 2018, two days before the Supreme Court was  due to hear a petition on transferring the Kathua rape and murder case trials out of Jammu and Kashmir, the GIA  submitted a report to minister of state in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh and home minister Rajnath Singh, stated The Print. The GIA questioned the J&K police’s investigations into the case. The authors of these books were a part of this team too.

At the launch, author Prerna Malhotra, lashed out at those who questioned the publishers Bloomsbury India. She blamed “intellectuals, Islamic hardliners, and the Left lobby,” for the Delhi Riot conspiracy. “We saw many ‘roop’ (faces/versions/) of the truth when we went to North east Delhi. We have exposed these conspirators. The riots were a Maoist Urban warfare, the first of its kind,” she declared. Sonali Chitalkar, the other author, alleged that there were “naxal Jihadis” who had allegedly camped at Northeast delhi. 

Noopur Sharma of Opindia called the Northeast Delhi riots, where mostly Muslims were killed, injured, and rendered homeless “anti-Hindu”, and said it was planned three months before the violence. She said the riots ended once the “Hindus retaliated to defend themselves… and more Muslims died.” She recalled Gujarat riots and said then only names of Muslim victims were known, and it was only in the Delhi riots that Hindu victims’ names are now known. “The tables have turned, for the first people remember the names of Hindu victims, and the name of the Muslim perpetators,” said the ‘editor’.

While known hate speech maker Kapil Mishra stuck to his old script and accused Safoora Zhargar, Sharjeel Imam,Umar Khalid etc., the live stream, he had tweeted the link too ended before Vivek Agnihotri could add his two bits. The ‘book’ has excited the right wing, especially those who use social media to spread their divisive doctrine. It is the publishing house which has some explaining to do, to their authors, readers and fraternity. 

Sudhanva Deshpande, publisher at LeftWord Books, shared his opinion on social media, about the ethics of publishing the book. He said Mishra’ “incendiary speeches played a role in triggering the violence; Monica Arora, authored the cover up; and Nupur Sharma, whose OpIndia led the way in spreading lies.”

He had asked 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?” 

He added that 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.

Bloomsbury, you can still salvage something here. Say you made a mistake and withdraw the book. Otherwise, really, your reputation is in the sewer.”

Looks like they listened.


MLA Kapil Mishra spews venom against Islam in video 

Delhi violence: Is Kapil Mishra the villain of the story?

Mere mention of Shaheen Bagh whets political appetites again

Is Delhi Police hiding key information, documents of riot cases?

North-East Delhi Riots: Minorities Commission investigations reveal role of Delhi Police, politicians 

Hate Speech by BJP’s Top Brass fuelled Build Up to Delhi Violence: Minorities 



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