Freedom of speech and expression: respected by Hindus, but denied to them

On August 22, 2020 at 3:30 P.M. when Advocate Monika Arora got a call from Bloomsbury India, informing her about the unilateral withdrawal of her book ‘Delhi Riots 2020′ by the publishing house, it was no less than a shock to her. She was writing a saga of truth, a narration with empathy, humanity and knowledge. Like stoics, she had backed it with reason, and displaying of imprudent facts was not her goal. 

Monika Arora, a Supreme Court advocate, public speaker and foremost a social activist, when deciding to lay down the truth of 2020 Delhi riots, went from Shaheen Bagh to Jaffrabad to Maujpur to Seelampur and other ground-zero locations, interviewed residents of these places, collected data, prepared a report and brought back her work to a few people for unbiased analysis, after which she aimed to publish it.

She chose a publishing house – Bloomsbury India. Deliberations took place, and the whole book publishing procedure was followed including scrutiny & approval by the publisher’s legal team, ending with the yet-to-be done launch of the book. The e-cards were circulated in public domain featuring BJP politician Kapil Mishra as the guest of honor, which was, yet again, not disapproved by the publisher. Then what exactly happened just 30 minutes before the launch, that the publisher did a volte face and withdrew that book? 

This was not the first time! 

Rajiv Malhotra, a Bharat-born American author exploring Bharatiya civilization and creating awareness about Hindu Dharma, faced the same roadblocks when publishing his books through HarperCollins. 

In both cases, the publishing houses have UK/US origin and were subject to pressure by the real culprits hiding behind. In Arora’s case, just for the sake of opposing a book stating real facts gathered from ground-zero of the riots, the whole clan of Indian left-wing, pseudo intellectuals came together, manufactured a tweet storm and brought the book down. Amazon stopped online pre-booking and the book roamed like an orphan, till Garuda Prakashan came forward to publish it and broke all records for book sales! 

Such cases highlight the bias in our publishing ecosystem, as when Wendy Doniger in 2009 released her controversial Hinduphobic book The Hindus: An Alternative History in Bharat; not only did the publishing house Penguin India refuse to drop it, but not a single liberal intellectual objected. Doniger portrayed Maa Sita as unchaste, King Dasharath as a sex maniac, Gods raping worshippers, and rape as a legitimate form of marriage among Hindus according to Rig Veda.

She ended up in trouble when one RSS worker objected and brought the matter to court, leading to the book’s ban in Bharat. However, in 2015 the book found its way back via another publisher Speaking Tiger and can be easily found at Mumbai/Delhi airport mocking Hindus to their face.

One-sided freedom of expression

How come books like Gujarat Files, Scarred: Experiments with Violence in Gujarat, The Anatomy of Hate, Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy, Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India, all written by one or the other left-liberal, among which some authors have already faced judicial censure, are still in circulation? 

The book Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy by Teesta Setalvad, having contributors like Barkha Dutt, Ramchandra Guha, Rajdeep Sardesai and many renowned professors of JNU (self-sufficient in spreading hate) blamed RSS, BJP and ‘Hindu bigotry’ for the Gujarat riots.

In one article, Harsh Mander praised Revati Laul for her book The Anatomy of Hate as her ‘quest for truth’ and ‘fierce, honest, brave work’. Harsh Mander is a former IAS bureaucrat turned activist who openly swore at Shaheen Bagh that he would turn Muslim if Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed. He, in his book Fear and Forgiveness: The Aftermath of Massacre, stated that Gujarat riots were ‘systematically planned in advance and executed by right-wing religious fundamentalist Hindutva groups’.

For majority of these books, Penguin Books, a UK origin publishing house, is the publisher.

George Orwell said it well that “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Stories of Kashmiri Pandits, persecuted Hindu saints, violence on Bengali Hindus, open killing of RSS/VHP workers never got recognition. Forget about a book on them, there is not even a movement for preservation of their rights. Why we Hindus cannot portray the truth when they are blatantly depicting lies?

In the book Shaheen Bagh: From a Protest to a Movement, the Muslim author claims that Tahir Hussain is innocent and played no role in the Delhi riots. But Hussain himself confessed to his involvement along with likes of Umar Khalid and the Pinjra Tod gang, driven by anger over CAA passage, abrogation of Article 370, Ram Mandir judgement and to ‘teach Hindus a lesson’. 

Conclusion

It is aptly quoted by Jess C. Scott that “Hypocrites get offended by the truth.” There exists a dominant ecosystem, designed to perpetuate negative thoughts and create an atmosphere of intolerance whenever it comes to Hindus, Hindu Dharma, Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra.

Bollywood designates Bharat as “not-safe” and pseudo-liberals rant about the suppression of freedom of speech and expression. Not to forget that every Diwali there are debates in courtrooms and assemblies on cracker-ban, but everyone becomes numb to the public slaughtering on Eid. A Muslim author’s book on Shaheen Bagh gets space in the public domain, but Monika Arora’s Delhi Riots 2020 is seen with suspicion and orphaned.

Hindus are tolerant and empathetic towards others, but the world goes deaf when it comes to persecution of Hindus and their rights.

-by Saloni Tomer


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