Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story

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Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story
AuthorMonika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra
PublisherBloomsbury India (withdrawn)
Garuda Prakashan

Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story is a controversial 2020 book about the Delhi riots that took place over a period of six days in February 2020 in which 53 died, including Hindus and Muslims both. According the current publisher's website,[1] the book aims to substantiate the claim that "the riots were planned and executed by Urban Naxal and Jihadi elements in Delhi"; which Amnesty International,[2][3] Human Rights Watch[4] and the Delhi Minorities Commission[5][6] contradict.[7]

As of August 24, 2020, Garuda Prakashan had 15,000 pre-orders for the book.[8] The number of pre-orders doubled to 30,000 by August 30, 2020.[9][10] The book was released virtually by Garuda Prakashan on September 20, 2020.[11]


The book is authored by Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar, and Prerna Malhotra. Arora is a Delhi-based lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court of India.[12] She is a standing counsel for the Government of India, in the Delhi High Court. She is former DUSU President from ABVP, during 1992–1993.[13] She also practices in the district courts.[14] Chitalkar is an assistant professor of political science at Miranda House, University of Delhi.[12] Malhotra is also an assistant professor for English at Ram Lal Anand College, University of Delhi. She has a Ph.D and has co-authored and edited six books.[12] The authors are part of the "Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA)", who had earlier submitted the report of their fact-finding mission on the 2020 Delhi Riots to the Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishen Reddy.[15][16]

Publication controversy[edit]

The book was originally published by Bloomsbury India. The controversy started because Kapil Misra, who has been named in the Delhi Minority Commission's fact-finding report,[17] was invited to the book's launch.[18] On 22 August 2020, after a "liberal" backlash, Bloomsbury withdrew from publishing the book. On 23 August 2020, publishing house Garuda Prakashan said that they would be publishing it.[19][20][21][22][23]

Bloomsbury India put out a statement:[24]

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. 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. Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society.

Following the stepping in of Garuda Prakashan, Tamil Nadu-based Footprint Publications, run by a BJP leader, also announced to print a Tamil version of the book.[25]

Monika Arora argues that the withdrawal of Bloomsbury India from publication is an attack on freedom of expression.[26]

After finding that a PDF copy of the book was circulating online while "Bloomsbury India was granted the sole and exclusive licence to reproduce copies of her book", the authors filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Delhi against Bloomsbury India "for the offence of criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief, misappropriation of property."[27][28] They also complained against Bloomsbury India for "rescinding on its obligations to publish and distribute her book titled Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story." The complaint stated:[27]

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 Bloomsbury UK, and from certain other persons on social media. While the book launch event was live, a statement came to be issued by the Publisher that it had decided to withdraw the book.

It also accused Nandini Sundar, The Quint, and Newslaundry of "illegal receipt and retention of stolen property". It further accused Aatish Taseer, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Saket Gokhale, and William Dalrymple of "criminal intimidation and statements creating and promoting enmity between communities."[27][29]

Multiple authors, including economist Sanjeev Sanyal, retired Indian Administrative Service officer Sanjay Dixit, and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Anand Ranganathan severed their ties with Bloomsbury India following the controversy.[30]


Garuda Prakashan received over 15,000 pre-orders in a day after it opened its website for the booking.[8] The Quint writes that "the book is mostly based on conjectures, conspiracy theories and is also riddled with misinformation".[31] Questioning the access of the book by The Quint and Newslaundry before its formal publication, the authors filed a criminal complaint against Bloomsbury India for having "leaked a PDF version of her book," to “hamper any future sales.”[27][32]


  1. "Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story | Garuda Prakashan". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  2. "India's police 'complicit' in anti-Muslim riots, alleges Amnesty". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  4. ""Shoot the Traitors" Discrimination Against Muslims under India's New Citizenship Policy" (PDF). Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  5. Venugopal, Vasudha. "Northeast Delhi violence: Police biased, didn't stop riots, says Delhi Minority Panel". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  6. "Burkhas, All 'Markers of Muslimness' Targeted, Report Details Women's Plight in Delhi Riots". The Wire. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  7. Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (2020-08-24). "Bloomsbury India pulls Delhi riots book after anti-Muslim controversy". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Agrawal, Soniya (2020-08-24). "Publisher Garuda gets over 15k pre-orders in a day for Delhi riots book Bloomsbury cancelled". ThePrint. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  9. "Delhi Riots 2020: Garuda Prakashan says they have got an overwhelming response with 30,000 preorders". Free Press Journal. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  10. "Books, bans, Bloomsbury and bloopers: Why withdrawing Delhi Riots 2020 is problematic - India News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 2020-09-08. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  11. IANS. "'Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story' Released". Telangana Today. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Akhauri, Tanvi (2020-08-26). "Who Are The Three Women Authors Behind The Controversial 'Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story'?". SheThePeople TV. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  14. "Monika Arora | Garuda Prakashan". Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  15. "Riots in northeast Delhi were planned: Report". Outlook. 2020-03-11. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  16. "'Delhi violence was pre-planned conspiracy', says GIA's fact finding team". DNA. 2020-03-11. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  17. Service, Tribune News. "Delhi riots: DMC fact-finding report names Kapil Mishra, calls out Delhi Police". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  18. "Kapil Mishra 'guest of honour' at launch of book on Delhi riots". Hindustan Times. 2020-08-21. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  19. PTI (2020-08-23). "Garuda Prakashan to publish book on Delhi riots, after Bloomsbury India says it won't". ThePrint. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  20. "Does Bloomsbury's decision to withdraw book on Delhi riots undermine free speech? A debate ensues". 24 August 2020. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  21. "Bloomsbury says it won't publish book on Delhi riots after social media backlash". The Hindu. PTI. 2020-08-23. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-08-27.CS1 maint: others (link)
  22. Ajmal, Anam (23 August 2020). "After social media rage, book on 2020 Delhi riots withdrawn". The Times of India. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  23. Shankar, Aranya (2020-08-24). "Brown Lives Matter: Authors of Delhi riots book to publisher". The Indian Express. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  24. "Publisher withdraws book on Delhi riots, author goes ahead with virtual launch". Hindustan Times. 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  25. Vignessh (2020-08-24). "Bloomsbury-reject 'Delhi Riots 2020' to be published in Tamil". The Federal. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  26. "What the publisher Bloomsbury India-Delhi Riots 2020 fracas highlights about the pernicious cynicism in Indian publishing - Art-and-culture News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 2020-08-27. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Singh, Aditi (2020-09-03). "Monika Arora - Delhi Riots Monika Arora - Delhi Riots News Monika Arora files complaint against Bloomsbury India, Twitter users over withdrawal of her book on Delhi Riots". Bar And Bench. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  28. "Delhi riots book: Police complaint against publisher Bloomsbury and others after authors meet police chief". The Financial Express. 2020-09-04. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  29. "Author of book on Delhi riots files police complaint". Hindustan Times. 2020-09-04. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  30. "Three authors sever ties with Bloomsbury India after publisher withdraws book on 2020 Delhi riots - India News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 2020-08-23. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  31. Goel, Himanshi Dahiya,Kritika (2020-08-26). "Factual Errors in 'Delhi Riots 2020' Book Fuel Conspiracy Theories". TheQuint. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  32. "Authors of Delhi riots book file complaint against William Dalrymple, Quint and others". Scroll. Retrieved 5 September 2020.