When the left talks about freedom of expression, what it’s really talking about is the freedom to express what it approves of.
A sustained campaign by left-wing voices has forced Bloomsbury to dissociate itself from the publication of the book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story. “Bloomsbury India had planned to release Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story in September a book purportedly giving a factual report on the riots in Delhi in February 2020, based on investigations and interviews conducted by the authors,” Bloomsbury reportedly said in a statement. “However, in view of very recent events including a virtual pre-publication launch organised without our knowledge by the authors, with participation by parties of whom the Publishers would not have approved, we have decided to withdraw publication of the book,” it added. Somewhat laughably, Bloomsbury added that it “strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.”
Last night, prominent left-wing voices in India had begun bullying Bloomsbury into withdrawing a book which they hadn’t even read. “This is only appropriate in the new India. Well done,” former NDTV journalist Nidhi Razdan had sarcastically tweeted, referring to the book launch announcement.
Similar views were expressed by other members of the leftist cabal.
Other leftists had threatened to end their association with Bloomsbury India over the book, calling it “fascist propaganda.”
Bloomsbury appears to have buckled under the sustained bullying. The official launch of the book took place as scheduled with filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, OpIndia Editor Nupur Sharma and BJP’s Kapil Mishra serving as chief guests, but soon after, Bloomsbury came out with a statement saying that it would no longer publish the book.
It’s unclear now how the book will now be published sans a publisher, but the incident again highlights the growing leftist intolerance in today’s India. India’s constitution and judicial system — which leftists claim to swear by — give adequate means of redressal if illegal material is published: there are laws around slander and libel, and the appropriate response could’ve been to go through legal channels if people felt that the book misrepresented facts. But the left, without even having read the book, chose to set up its own parallel bullying framework, and forced Bloomsbury to dissociate from the project.
This, of course, has the potential to lead India down a dark and uncertain path — with only one viewpoint allowed to propagate, the left wants to continue and perpetuate the hegemony it already enjoys in fields like the media, cinema and book publication. The Indian right would do well to wake up before it’s too late — the only fitting response from here could be to find a new publisher, and then make sure that Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story reaches every man, woman and child in the country.