Freedom of Expression has once again become a hot topic of debate in the country after publishers Bloomsbury India withdrew the book titled 'Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story' by advocate Monica Arora and Delhi University professors Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra. The authors claimed this was a book based on facts and was checked by the publisher before publication.
What forced the publisher to withdraw is the garrulous noises of India's intolerant brigade, the Leftists and Islamists, who are unhappy at the prospect of getting exposed. They had tried to build lies around the Delhi riots despite facts to the contrary presented through police investigation, court observations and confessions by rioters. They feared being exposed.
These are the same sets of people who come in defence of lawyer Prashant Bhushan who is held guilty of contempt by the Supreme Court (the same courtesy was not extended when Justice Karnan was held guilty of contempt in 2017), or shout slogans of "Bharat tere tukde honge (India will split)", or "Afzal hum sharminda hain, tere qatil zinda hain (We are sorry Afzal that your killers are alive; in this case that would be the judiciary, because the apex court had upheld the hanging of Afzal Guru). These are the same people of the 'award wapsi gang' who said India had become intolerant.
What the publishers did is their business. The larger issue is what happened to these guardian angels of liberalism and open thoughts. Let thoughts come from all directions so that people can assimilate and process these to arrive at the truth. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore advocated that there should be no gag on knowledge. The mind must broaden to help mankind’s struggle for wisdom.
But these people have adopted the communist ideology of censoring knowledge so that people don’t get educated and become wise. They must live under the belief that what intellectuals decide for them is the best. This is like understanding scriptures through the mullahs or the clerics. These Leftists and Islamists have tried to occupy the mind space of the country since Independence. Whichever government came to power, they were not disturbed since they were entrenched in colleges and universities and most institutions of the country dealing with intellectual discourse. Even the film industry has been dominated by them. This explains why films were financed by mafia dons and how Dawood Ibrahim, declared international terrorist after the Mumbai blasts of 1993, ruled the roost.
They oppose Salman Rushdie for expressing his opinion about Islam. They oppose Taslima Nasreen for expressing her experiences of living in an Islamic society. They also oppose Tarek Fateh for articulating his opinion based on his experiences. But they support when an artist expresses his art by painting Hindu gods and goddesses nude. They are mum when temples are destroyed and Hindus humiliated. They are mum when Hagia Sophia, an iconic building, is reconverted into a mosque. Needless to mention that they were mum when journalist Alok Tomar was arrested for reproducing the Danish cartoonist’s caricature of Prophet Muhammad.
But their days are over because of the proliferation of social media and also realisation in many media houses that the nationalist urge for a strong India demands fair play based on logic and reason. Things have changed more particularly after Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 and got a resounding victory in 2019. There is no sign of abatement of Modi’s popularity and the India intolerant brigade knows that deliverance for them would not be easy.
They have become frustrated as they are losing their intellectual hegemony day by day. They fed lies to people on historical facts of Ayodhya and the renowned professors who did these are looking for cover after the Supreme Court gave its verdict that repudiated their claims. They used lies, assumptions and insinuations to create an optic that tried to confuse the nation. They are the ones who gave the Aryan invasion theory, now rejected after scientific evidence, to suit their narrative that Hindus were not original inhabitants of this land. Their politics dominated their writings.
They wallowed in excitement when the same publisher came out with a book on Shaheen Bagh which is a biased narrative and forwards the same arguments the Leftists/Islamists gave in various television debates. The book tried to defend the Constitution but could not justify opposition to a legislation passed by Parliament with an overwhelming majority. It tried to commit a fraud in the name of the Constitution.
Contrary to this, Monika Arora’s book claims to be based on facts. These facts were not objected to when the publisher was in the processing of preparing the book for publication. Later, comments by Leftists/Islamists created a perception that the book was anti-Muslim. Since when has speaking against the guilty based on verified facts and interviews become anti-Muslim? They were rioters and people need to know who did what and why. But, alas, this did not suit the political narrative of the gang sponsored by the Congress. No wonder the Congress has jumped into the fray.
Justice has its own way of getting vindicated. The controversy over the publication of the book has made everyone aware that there is a book of this nature and people are waiting excitedly to know the truth. Social media and debates over freedom of expression in this new context have made the book popular. The purpose of censoring the book has been defeated. Those who wallowed in victory would be sulking at the huge response. This is new India trying to break free from intellectual slavery of the Left-Islamists and fascists.
(The author is a national panel spokesperson of BJP and an author. Views expressed are personal.)