Skip to main content

Untold story of Delhi riots book: A 'planned' conspiracy against activists, communities

Counterview Desk

Even as the Delhi police is investigating into the Delhi riots, three human rights organizations, Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Anhad and Muslim Women’s Forum, have release an exhaustive review of the controversial book authored by Hindutva protagonists, “Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story”, whose PDF version they say has gone viral after the publishers, Bloomberg, withdrew it, though it is available on a top online store.  
In an exhaustive 51-page “review”, mostly in a tabular form, the Delhi riots book, it says, was originally a "fact-finding report" by a group called GIA (Group of Intellectuals and Academicians  -- Monika Arora, Sonali Chitalkar, Prerna Malhotra), that was submitted to the Home Ministry on March 11, 2020. Later, a version of it was accepted for publication by Bloomsbury India. 
“The authors claimed their freedom of expression was violated. But the facts are clear -- there was no call to ban the Delhi Riots 2020 book. Established and reputable publishers get their reputation because they fact-check, and stay away from publishing material that may amount to libel”, the reviewers claim.
The "review" seeks to examine “parallels between the book and some charge-sheets filed by the Delhi Police in the riots cases, and reveals evidence of a conspiracy – because a book like this seems to be providing the template that Delhi Police is following, noting, it “allows a reader to “judge the book’s relationship to fact, and its deeply worrying relationship to the narrative being created by the Delhi Police.”

Excerpts:

On March 11, 2020, a group called GIA (Group of Intellectuals and Academicians) submitted a fact-finding report on the Delhi riots to the Home Ministry. The group then announced that a book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, based on this report would be launched on August 22, 2020.
The guests of honour at the launch event included Kapil Mishra, a Delhi BJP leader, who became known for his hate speeches between December 2019 and February 2020, in the run up to the Delhi Assembly election. On December 21 , 2019 he led his supporters in chanting -- ‘Desh ke ghaddaron ko. Goli maaro saalon ko’ (The traitors to the nation. Shoot the bastards).
On February 23, 2020, he stood in North-East Delhi, along with the Deputy Commissioner of Police, and threatened that his supporters would ‘take matters into their own hands’ if the CAA protesters were not cleared up. This speech is widely alleged to have triggered the subsequent violence that wracked North East Delhi between February 23 and 26, 2020.
Petitions are pending in the courts asking for FIRs and legal action against him for inciting the Delhi violence, which took 53 lives (40 Muslims and 13 Hindus) and devastated many more. On the day of the book launch, Bloomsbury India, the publisher, pulled out.
We do not know exactly why, but presumably because many people objected to the idea of such a book and its release by Kapil Mishra. The authors subsequently claimed that their freedom of expression was being curtailed.
It is noteworthy here that the lead author, advocate Monika Arora, was instrumental in getting noted Sanskritist Wendy Donniger’s book, “The Hindus”, banned in India in 2014. One of the other authors, Prerna Malhotra, belongs to the National Democratic Teachers Front (NDTF) which has frequently lobbied to remove material from the social science syllabi of Delhi University, including well known linguist AK Ramanujan’s “Three Hundred Ramayanas.”
But the facts on this matter are clear -- there was no call to ban the Delhi Riots 2020 book. Established and reputable publishers get their reputation because they fact-check, and stay away from publishing material that may amount to libel. Other publishers may not care, and therefore do not achieve that reputation. One publisher, Garuda Press, has now said it intends to publish this book.
In the meantime, a PDF of the Bloomsbury book began to be circulated widely, on WhatsApp, Twitter and email, by supporters of the book, who believed that its message must be spread far and wide. At the virtual book launch, Kapil Mishra tweeted “The book is public now”. A reputed publisher like Bloomsbury must answer how this material, including defamatory content, made it through their fact-checks from manuscript stage to final proofs.

What is this book about?

This book is not about the Delhi riots. This book is about re-casting a people’s movement for equal citizenship and against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA), into something criminal. In the book the ‘facts’ of the Delhi violence form only one chapter (chapter 6).
The passing of the CAA led to one of the largest democratic rights movements in independent India, across class, religious communities and regions. Its closest contemporary equivalent is probably the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Like the BLM, the movement against the CAA, with full participation of democratic and civil rights actors, was led by those most directly affected, by Muslims, and especially by Muslim women.
Scores of university students, women and men, also played a leadership role. The police attack on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) who were peacefully protesting against the CAA and the police vandalisation of the Jamia library had led to a wave of sympathetic protests in colleges and universities across the country, starting with Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
In order to delegitimise the movement against the CAA, it had to be criminalised. The Delhi riots themselves were the first step – to introduce violence and abruptly end a peaceful people’s movement. The second step was to link this violence to the movement against CAA, as cause and effect. The third step was to link all Muslim protestors, those associated with civil rights and democratic movements, and ordinary university students critical of government policies, and paint them all as actors in a synchronized conspiracy to destabilise the country.

Broad argument in the book

According to this book, there was a giant criminal conspiracy to create extreme violence and destroy the Indian state. The conspiracy was likely foreign funded, probably by international, Islamist organizations; possibly the ISIS. The entire movement against the CAA-NRC-NPR in India was the front.
The lakhs of protestors, including youth, students and women of all ages were part of the conspiracy; sometimes described as gullible and brainwashed, and other times as co-conspirators who were exceptionally violent.
The conspirators were ‘Urban Naxals’ or Jihadi, and most times both at once. The book does not explain why Naxals were funded by Islamists, despite their known differences. The phrase Urban-Naxal-Jihadi is used a lot in this book. Each throw aims to stick to a range of actors, in the belief that stickability is a foregone conclusion; that it is self-evident and self-explanatory; and requires neither logic nor evidence. It is fair to say that in this book, all people who express liberal views and take public positions against the ruling BJP are Urban-Naxal.
All Muslims -- men, women and children -- are Jihadi. The tale takes a broad sweep, invokes images of ISIS, Syria and Egypt, and quotes from purported Maoist pamphlets about guerrilla warfare. In a 190-page book about the Delhi riots, the approximate number of times these words/phrases appear (not counting titles and references) is as follows: Urban-Naxal – 45; Jihadi – 42; Urban-Naxal-Jihadi (occurring in close combination) – 28; Syria – 13; ISIS – 24; PFI – 17; Left -46; International (media/internationalising the issue) – 16.
This is more times than the names of any of the victims of this tragedy. This is more times than the word ‘victim’ itself which appears only some 16 times. 4 According to this book, conspirators – interchangeably Urban, Naxal and Jihadi – planted highly skilled sharp-shooters, possibly trained in Syria or Egypt, on high rise buildings in North East Delhi to kill.
Therefore, the authors demand that all high-rise buildings in all of Northeast Delhi must be subjected to a forensic audit. Many Islamic rioters, the book suggests, had combat training and used ‘bunkers.’ The conspirators also trained women to hide swords under their burqas. However, it does not indicate a possible location for this burqa/sword training. Delhi Police had no choice but to crush this Islamist-Naxal conspiracy, which is also taking root in our most reputed universities.
Therefore, this books also calls on “… vice chancellors of Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University and all other universities to take an audit of the use of their campuses to engineer wider disturbances in the city in the eight weeks leading up to the riots.” This then, is the big picture of the Delhi riots in this book. This narrative may not meet many readers’ standards of credibility, but it claims to be the ‘untold story’ of the Delhi riots.

The ‘real’ conspiracy

We did, however, find evidence, which forces us to take this book very seriously. For alongside this book, we also read the charge-sheets being filed by the Delhi Police in the riot cases. We came to the inescapable conclusion that there is indeed a conspiracy. And this book is part of it.
The theories in this book have been replicated down to details in the charge-sheets being filed by the Delhi Police in the Delhi riots cases. These criminal cases have already incarcerated scores of people who participated in the movement against the CAA. For example, Chapter 6 about the first day of violence in the Seelampur-Jaffrabad area, contains a story that mirrors the version in the police charge-sheet on the Jaffrabad violence (FIR 50/20).
We scanned several other charge-sheets and found the same story being repeated. Each charge-sheet begins its narrative with the movement against the CAA, it then goes on to talk about conspiracy, pre-planning, networks, and so on, with no evidence whatsoever. Yet, people are in jail today, many under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), an anti-terror law that makes bail near impossible. Many more live with the threat of imprisonment tomorrow.
This book is part of a carefully crafted template for the police to follow and embellish. Unrelated actors and actions are now being woven by the police into a complex conspiratorial web out of thin air. The grand foundational idea of the rule of law and sanctity of investigative procedures, on which hinges the liberty of each individual in any civilized society, is reduced to tawdry copy-paste.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as

Dalit Hindi professor intimidated, harassed by saffron brigade: 400 activists, academics

Counterview Desk  Over 400 academics and activists have expressed alarm at the Lucknow University ‘protests’ on May 10 against Dr Ravi Kant, associate professor of Hindi and a Dalit, stating it is nothing but “intimidation and abuse” over his remarks on the online channel Satya Hindi, which were taken out of context and made viral on social media. “We are even more concerned that such an incident should occur within the confines a university campus, where free speech and expression without fear must ideally be the norm. Violence and intimidation over differences of opinion should never occur in a university”, the statement regrets, asking the authorities at the university and the Uttar Pradesh government to assure him and his family “protection from further harassment or intimidation.” Text: We are a group of academics and activists deeply concerned by the public heckling and intimidation of Dr. Ravi Kant, Associate Professor of Hindi and well known Dalit scholar, on the premises of t