Author of book on Delhi riots files police complaint
The co-author of a book on Delhi riots, which sparked a row on the day its launch last month, has filed a police complaint against publishing house Bloomsbury India, Delhi university professor Nandini Sundar, author William Dalrymple, two media publishing companies and others on September 1, accusing them of cheating, criminal intimidation, retention of stolen property and promoting enmity between classes.
On August 21, Bloomsbury India had backed out from releasing the book, ‘Delhi riots 2020: The untold story’, ahead of its virtual launch, after a photograph of the virtual invite of the event showing Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra as one of the guests kicked up a controversy on social media.
The authors had then said there was a campaign on social media to stifle their free speech and stop the book’s release. Bloomsbury said they were withdrawing from publishing the book, saying they were uncomfortable with the participation of some people.
One of the authors, Monika Arora, said on Thursday that she sent a complaint to Delhi police commissioner SN Shrivastava’s email id, sharing evidence of their correspondence with the publishing house.
Arora said they had informed the company of the virtual launch, along with details of the guests, and received an acknowledgment from them. She said while 100 copies had been already distributed, the company informed the authors about its decision to withdraw their book on August 22.
In her complaint, Arora said a PDF of the book was stolen, circulated before release and Sundar was among those who had received it but did not report about receiving the stolen item.
“Our script was stolen by some people and circulated on social media. It was a venomous campaign by the people I named in the report. How did they receive the PDF of our book? They started a false campaign against our free speech. The police have assured us they will take appropriate legal action,”Arora said.
A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, said police were looking into the allegations.
HT contacted Dalrymple via calls and text messages but there was no response until Thursday night. Bloomsbury too did not offer a response till Thursday night.
Delhi university professor Sundar released her statement on social media, terming the complaint as “absurd.” “...If Arora or Bloomsbury have not complained about any stolen property, what business is it of mine to take any appropriate legal measures to bring it to the notice of the authorities.”
Sundar said that on August 22, the chief guest at the book launch had tweeted -- “The book is public now.”
“Monika Arora, who was best situated to judge whether these reports were based on stolen property, has chosen to keep quiet about it till now,” she said in her statement.
After Bloomsbury withdrew from publishing the book, the authors held a virtual launch with Kapil Mishra as the guest of honour. Apart from Mishra, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma were invited as guests of honour. BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav launched the book.
Ahead of the February riots, Mishra had delivered a speech that people would take matters into their own hands if the police did not remove anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act demonstrators near the Jafrabad Metro station. Clashes between pro- and anti-CAA groups later snowballed into a Hindu-Muslim communal riot. Mishra was not charged by police for his speech.