The book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, claims to be an ‘expose’ on Delhi’s February 2020 communal riots, just six months after the communal violence, even though the matter is subjudice. It was ‘launched’ online by the authors themselves because the publishers Bloomsbury India refused to be associated with the event. The publishers accused the authors of using their brand logo at the launch without permission, and later after scores of activists, authors, journalists, and readers raised concerns about the one-sided book, they withdrew it. However, the withdrawal came after an online launch by the authors, and their supporters.
And as predicted, another publishing house, Garuda Prakashan will now publish the title. Garuda introduces itself as an “international publishing venture focusing on Indic narratives.” It is founded by Sankrant Sanu, whose official bio states that he is “well-grounded in the Bharatan traditions with a daily spiritual practice of yoga, Kriya and Dhyana.” He is a graduate of IIT Kanpur and the University of Texas at Austin and once worked at Microsoft Corporation.
The Lede, in an article on influencers of trolls, had added him to the list of notables, but below many ‘seniors’. His tweets have all too often reflected an anti-minority sentiment. The publication’s co-founder & COO is one Ankur Pathak, whose official bio calls him a “young lexicographer, author and entrepreneur with a vision to fill the gaps in the society by providing some innovative solutions.” Apart from “widespread acclaims from the Indian intellectuals,” other qualifications include, “several expert lectures on vocabulary enhancement at various top-notch institutes including IIT Kanpur, IIT Patna, and IIT Bombay,” he is also a “seeker of Adhyatama and the practitioner of Pranayama and Dhyana.”
Even though 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, no one has called for a ‘ban’. No calls, or action against the authors have been initiated for their writings. In fact some of them have written columns and opinions for mainstream publications over time. While there is no infringement on their Freedom of Expression, the online right-wing influencers have spent much of the weekend fanning that sentiment.
They have been successful it seems, because the visibility of the till now unknown publication has increased manifold. They claim their website even crashed under the “love showered on us, http://garudabooks.com site went down for a short period this evening.” The publicity blitz for Garuda has been led by some of the biggest names including Rajya Sabha member, lawyer, Subramaniam Swamy who attacked Bloomsbury’s withdrawal of the book- ‘Delhi Riots 2020, and said it “ exposes the Underworld of Indian book publishing industry run by the Left Mafia”
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) August 23, 2020
Others like actors Kangana Ranaut, and Raveena Tandon joined the trend, with hashtags such as #BanTheBan. Strange, because no ban on the book has been announced by the government.
Remember they will kill you burn you in the name of secularism, they will also snatch your voice for the cause of free speech, remember truth will be forbidden again, open your eyes now #DelhiRiots2020 #DelhiRiotsUntoldStory #DelhiRiots https://t.co/jSDv1fS74v
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) August 22, 2020
— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) August 23, 2020
According to commentator A Ranganathan, whose books Love & Honour and Rat Eater were published by Bloomsbury, the book on Delhi Riots-2020, was “withdrawn by Bloomsbury India “under threats by fascists”. He has asked his followers to “take a collective pledge: WE WILL MAKE THIS THE FASTEST INDIAN BOOK TO A MILLION COPIES SOLD.)
Let us take a collective pledge: WE WILL MAKE THIS THE FASTEST INDIAN BOOK TO A MILLION COPIES SOLD.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) August 23, 2020
Another Bloomsbury India author Sanjay Dixit, a bureaucrat, announced that he had terminated his contract with the publishing house for this to be released book ‘Nullifying Article 370 and Enacting CAA’. He too will now be published by Garuda Prakashan.
Announcement: I have terminated my contract with @BloomsburyIndia for my due to be released book ‘Nullifying Article 370 and Enacting CAA’ (20.09.2020 release), and assigned it to @GarudaPrakashan – please do not place pre-orders on the @BloomsburyBooks title now.
— Sanjay Dixit ಸಂಜಯ್ ದೀಕ್ಷಿತ್ संजय दीक्षित (@Sanjay_Dixit) August 23, 2020
The authors have not stated why they did not approach Garuda to publish all their books before Bloomsbury India’s withdrawal of this controversial book was reported this weekend.
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. Here is an easy fact check resource for Garuda, the new publishers must read if they wish to do a fact check on the book’s claims:
The Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), with members including supreme Court advocate Monika Arora, one of the Delhi Riot book authors, had submitted a 48-page report titled Delhi Riots 2020: Report from Ground Zero – The Shaheen Bagh Model in North-East Delhi: From Dharna to Danga to the Union Minister of state for Home Affairs, G. Kishen Reddy. According to reports from then, including this in The Wire, that report portrayed the “bloodletting in North-East Delhi during February 23-26 as the handiwork of an ‘Urban-Naxal-Jihadi’ network’ (a term coined by the party in power at the Centre to discredit dissenters and civil society/academia, which has no basis in reality.)” The GIA Report concluded that, “The Delhi Riots, 2020 were pre-planned. There are evidences of a ‘Left-Jihadi model of revolution’ that has been executed in Delhi and is sought to be replicated at other places.” And that the Delhi riots “are not genocide or a pogrom targeted at any community. They are a tragic outcome of a planned and systematic radicalisation of the minorities by a far left-Urban Naxal network operating in universities in Delhi.”
Meanwhile, Bar and Bench reports that advocate Monika Arora has sent a notice as ‘Author’ to Bloomsbury India. She also alleged that there were Copyright and Intellectual Property issues.
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) August 24, 2020