Bloomsbury India said it would not publish a controversial book on this year's Delhi riots
The authors of the controversial book "Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story" filed a complaint with the police on Thursday against publishing house Bloomsbury, some media organisations and noted individuals, alleging cheating, mischief, misappropriation of property and criminal intimidation by them.
The authors met Delhi Commissioner of Police S N Shrivastava with their complaint and sought "immediate and necessary action" against those named in it.
The complaint accused professor-activist Nandini Sundar and news portals The Print and Newslaundry of "illegal receipt and retention of stolen property", and several noted individuals, including historian William Dalrymple and author Aatish Taseer, of "criminal intimidation and (making) statements creating and promoting enmity, hatred, and ill will between classes".
The book, authored by advocate Monika Arora and professors Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, got embroiled in a controversy for inviting BJP leader Kapil Mishra as a guest of honour on its launch on August 22.
There have been allegations that several leaders, including Mr Mishra, made inflammatory speeches targeting anti-citizenship law protesters before the violence broke out in Northeast Delhi on February 23.
Later, Bloomsbury after facing a massive backlash on social media withdrew itself from the book, saying the virtual launch was "organised without its knowledge". The book found a new publishing house in Garuda Prakashan the very next day.
According to the complaint, signed by Ms Arora, Bloomsbury "wilfully with dishonest intentions expunged her work and also leaked a PDF version of the book in public to hamper any future sales".
"The present complaint seeks investigation... for being the publisher of my authored book and having deliberately, willfully with dishonest intentions expunged my work, effort and skill thereby diminishing my goodwill, reputation and standing, without my knowledge and consent rescinded from performing its obligations under the terms of the agreement dated 29.5.2020 and leaked a PDF version of the book in public to hamper any future sales," read the complaint.
Contrary to what Bloomsbury India had claimed, the complaint said that an e-poster of the book launch event in question with the list of "confirmed speakers" was sent to the publishing house and that they had acknowledged it too.
It alleged that the publishers withdrew only after being pressured by its parent company Bloomsbury UK.
"The book launch event was widely publicized on social media platforms with full knowledge of the Publisher. 100 physical copies of the book were delivered as per the terms of the agreement by the Publisher to the Author on 1.8.2020. On the date of the launch, at 3:30 PM, the Publisher phoned the Author to say that it was considering withdrawing the book on account of pressure of its parent company, and from certain other persons on social media," it added.
In the complaint, Ms Arora claimed that a "venomous campaign" emerged on the social media and a "group of individuals/ propagandists'', whom she referred to as "Urban Naxal Gang", "conspired and went all out to kill the book by pressurizing, intimidating, bullying and blackmailing the publishers".
She also put out tweets by activist Saket Gokhale, along with journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani and poet Meena Kandasamy, all named in the complaint, alleging that they were congratulating one another for being able to put a stop on the release of the book.
The complaint also accused media houses The Quint and NewsLaundry, and professor-activist Nandani Sundar for critiquing the book and attempting to discredit the authors' work based on a leaked or "stolen" PDF copy of the book.
"How in the world would they have got their hands on the book if not for this unauthorized circulation. As on date, there is no other physical copy in existence except for those 100 copies that had been delivered to me. Thus, despite knowing such a version was 'stolen property' neither the aforesaid media houses nor Ms Sundar chose to take any appropriate legal measures to bring it to the notice of authorities," it said.
Some individuals who have been named in the complaint have reacted to it through tweets.
"I'm actually glad this has happened. This should remove all doubt, in anyone's mind, that these were not independent writers at all, but a state-sponsored syndicate, dedicated to whitewashing the role of certain BJP leaders in the Delhi Riots," tweeted Mr Taseer.
"This is an attempt at intimidation by BJP-linked authors using Central agencies bcoz we spoke against their vile book full of lies & minority-blaming on the Delhi Pogrom. This complaint is a joke. But the one I file about the contents of the book with @DGPMaharashtra won''t be," tweeted Mr Gokhale.
"Wow..... just learnt this. now coming after us with state machinery. We will not allow literature and publishing to platform hate," tweeted Ms Kandasamy.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)