New Delhi: BJP leader Kapil Mishra Saturday lashed out at critics who created a storm over his planned participation at the launch of a book on Delhi riots, which was slated for publication by Bloomsbury India next month but has been withdrawn.
Mishra was addressing a virtual launch of the book, Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, organised by its three authors — Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra. Other guests included BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav, OpIndia editor Nupur Sharma and film-maker Vivek Agnihotri.
The virtual launch of the book, which alleges that the February 2020 Delhi riots were the result of a pre-planned conspiracy, triggered a row Friday as the invitees included Mishra as guest of honour.
The furore centred on the fact that a provocative speech by the BJP leader is alleged to be among the primary triggers of the Delhi riots, which left at least 53 dead while injuring over 400. The event, Bloomsbury later clarified, was not associated with them. However, as the outcry, including by leading personalities, intensified, Bloomsbury announced Saturday that it is withdrawing the book altogether.
Addressing the event, Mishra said the “custodians of freedom of expression are scared that the book will be published and the truth will come out”.
“They are scared of what will happen if the book is published, or what will happen when it will come out in the market… what will happen when the people will read the book,” he said.
“They are scared of the book because they know this book will expose their lies and bring out the truth of the Delhi riots. These people who are scared of the book, at one point, used to act as the custodians of freedom of expression in the country,” Mishra added.
“Those who used to defend swearing at Bharat Mata by terming it freedom of expression, those who used to abuse Hindu Gods and defended it as freedom of expression, those who used to raise slogans of ‘Afzal Guru zindabad’ or considered slain (Hizbul Mujahideen) commander Burhan Wani their son are scared of this book,” he said. “I want to congratulate the authors that this is the strength of your book.”
The book, he added, is “in fact, the untold truth of the Delhi riots and exposes the intellectual terrorism that was unleashed during that time”.
“I want to congratulate the writers…” he said, criticising the “propaganda” surrounding the Delhi riots, “where (suspended AAP leader) Tahir Hussain, from whose house bombs were recovered, was made into a victim, and those who were responsible for the killings of police personnel were shown as victims”.
“At a time when even international publications were running propaganda against the riots… to decide and bring out the truth is a brave thing,” added Mishra, who was also the guest of honour at the virtual book launch.
The authors, also addressing the event, said they are considering taking legal action against Bloomsbury, while Yadav echoed Mishra’s attack on liberals.
Mishra & Delhi riots
Although Mishra has not been charged by Delhi Police, a provocative speech he delivered in Northeast Delhi amid massive nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) allegedly served as a trigger for the violence in the capital this February.
Since the CAA seeks to fast-track citizenship for persecuted minorities from India’s three Muslim-dominated neighbours Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the Act was seen by many as a tool against the country’s Islamic community. Many Muslims, along with other Indians, consequently led protests against the law.
One such protest sprang up in Northeast Delhi, at the Jaffrabad Metro station, this February, leading Mishra to threaten vigilante violence if police failed to clear out the area in three days. The riots began hours later.
At the Saturday event, Mishra said the book has scared people “not only here in India but those sitting in New York and Britain who run their lobby”.
“First, they targeted the ordinary people, then police, then judges and lawyers, and now they are targeting researchers, journalists, publishers. They run a campaign against a publisher, a writer,” he said, adding that similar “research” should also be carried out into this month’s Bengaluru riots.
‘Publisher backtracking doesn’t matter’
Delhi Riots 2020 has been authored by lawyer Monika Arora and professors Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra — all of whom are associated with the Right-wing Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) — and its subjects include the ‘Shaheen Bagh Model’, ‘the Violence in Universities’, and the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Saying they are considering taking legal action against Bloomsbury India, Arora claimed it didn’t matter to them that a publisher has backtracked.
“One publisher or two publisher or three publishers does not make a difference. What makes a difference is whether the Supreme Court will still be able to give impartial decisions today? Or these lobbies will threaten it? Will any Bloomsbury be able to publish properly? Or a lobby will threaten it? Those who talk about the nation, will they be able to raise their voice, or the lobby will threaten them too? We are not scared.”
Arora said, if need be, they will self-publish, which will allow everyone to read the book. “New India is not affected by your lobby,” she added.
The Delhi riots, she added, were the “brainchild of urban Naxals and Islamist jihadists”.
BJP national general secretary Yadav launched the book and said an independent probe should be carried out into the anti-CAA protests in Delhi and the riots.
“The Untold Story tells us the liberals are not fighting for the right to freedom of expression, but the freedom to speak anything they want, even that which harms the country. The Delhi riots were an attempt to wage jihad against the Indian state,” he said.
“India respects all religions. It is the so-called liberals who play to the gallery. Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story exposes them,” he added.