New Delhi: Garuda Prakashan’s phones and email and WhatsApp inboxes are buzzing with pre-orders ever since it announced that it would publish the controversial book titled ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’, which was deplatformed by Bloomsbury India.
Authored by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, ‘Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story’ alleges that the February 2020 Delhi riots were the result of a pre-planned conspiracy.
So far, Garuda, which says it promotes the ‘indic narrative’, has received 15,000 pre-orders in a day.
Ankur Pathak, co-founder of Garuda Prakashan, told ThePrint: “The number of pre-orders that I have told you are tentative figures and are expected to increase. Ever since we opened our booking lines at 9 pm Sunday, our phones haven’t stopped ringing. We are getting responses on our website, WhatsApp number, email and on our phones.
What’s more, the publishing house has even begun snapping up authors signed to Bloomsbury, such as former IAS officer Sanjay Dixit, who denounced its decision to withdraw the publication of the book.
Missed this interaction of mine with @RatanSharda55 and @AdvaitaKala on the entire @BloomsburyBooks fiasco? Watch this @JaipurDialogues video talk. We cover the entire range of issues and call for boycott of @DalrympleWill @khaledhosseini and #HarryPotter https://t.co/CaIWUtCpL7
— Sanjay Dixit ಸಂಜಯ್ ದೀಕ್ಷಿತ್ संजय दीक्षित (@Sanjay_Dixit) August 23, 2020
Pathak added: “Sanjay Dixit has signed a contract with Garuda Prakashan, and we are in talks with more such authors who wish to work with us.”
‘Want to support fact-based books’
Bloomsbury India announced Saturday that it would no longer publish the book, a move allegedly triggered after prominent authors like William Dalrymple and Aatish Taseer publicly condemned the publisher for giving a platform to it.
At the root of the controversy was an online book launch, in which one of the invitees was Delhi BJP leader and former MLA Kapil Mishra — whose provocative speeches allegedly triggered the unrest in the north-eastern part of the national capital in February. Other panellists for the book launch included BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav, OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri.
Then, on 23 August, Garuda Prakashan announced on Twitter that it would publish the book instead.
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.
— Garuda (@GarudaPrakashan) August 23, 2020
It also said its website crashed due to an overwhelming rush of pre-orders.
We don't know about future, but THIS IS CERTAINLY UNPRECEDENTED. THANK YOU!
Sharing the confirmation!
OUR WEBSITE INDEED CRASHED.
We are on the job!
KEEP FOLLOWING THIS SPACE!
— Garuda (@GarudaPrakashan) August 24, 2020
Elaborating on Garuda’s decision to publish the book, Pathak said: “As soon as Bloomsbury deplatformed the book, we made an offer to the authors. One hundred copies of the book had anyway been distributed during the launch, and we were familiar with the narrative and facts of the book.”
He added it was an editorial decision to publish the book. “We are against the suppression of freedom of expression and speech. We found the book based on facts. It was unfair that some people dismissed the book without reading it,” Pathak said.
Sonali Chitalkar, one of the authors of the book, called this “India’s Charlie Hebdo moment”. “This book is now a people’s book. Once we saw that Bloomsbury tried to kill our book, we reached out to our audience on social media for help, and they helped indeed. They suggested we should go with Garuda Prakashan, so we did,” she told ThePrint.
“We believe that people should read before they riot. The reactions from people without reading the book are unfair. This book has been written with no preconceived notions, and we have kept the narrative true to reality,” Chitalkar added.
What is Garuda Prakashan?
Garuda Prakashan is a publishing house founded three years ago by IIT alumnus Sankrant Sanu and Pathak. It is based in Gurugram, and calls itself “a platform where stories that bring forth the perspective and narrative of the Indian civilisation can be told”.
It aims to build an alternative narrative for Indian culture, free of Western culture and biases.
One of Garuda’s better-known publications was filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘Urban Naxal’, named after the controversial term that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used for people expressing their dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Major General G.D. Bakshi (retd), well-known TV news panellist, has also penned a book published by Garuda, titled ‘The Saraswati Civilisation’, which claims to narrate the “original” history of India as opposed to the “whitewashed history” that the colonial masters have told.
Other notable books published by Garuda include ‘India Facts: Hindu Human Rights Report 2017’ by author Mayank Patel, and ‘The English Medium Myth’ by co-founder Sankrant Sanu.