Delhi Riots 2020 Book Review: One side of the coin – and it’s not pretty

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After months of lockdown and economic slowdown, the anti-CAA protests are nothing but a hazy memory in the minds of most Indians. Delhi Riots 2020 might have been launched at the wrong time but does serve as a grave reminder of waned passions that had burned Delhi, only a few months back.

The controversial right-wing story lives up to its promise of bringing various pieces of evidence to connect CAA protests with Jihad, Pakistani intelligence agency ISI and even the Caliphate of ISIS.

The book or ‘report’ as its many authors claim it to be, Delhi Riots builds a theory that the protests with homemade bombs, bricks, snipers and sticks are organized, planned and funded by anti-national elements.

To be fair, the authors do provide accounts of the victims, their misfortunes and the effect of mindless violence on lives and livelihoods. But these accounts are attached at the end of the book with photographs. The first few chapters are dedicated to giving an account of Left and Islamic activities. If only the human stories of the death of a constable and an IB officer were brought to the fore, it would have served its purpose – of generating empathy.

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Repeating around the bush

In an unexpected irony, the writing style mimics Ayn Rand whose magnum opuses endlessly repeat a point that the protests were the part of a larger strategy.

While the narrative itself might be one-sided, none of the facts were ill represented either. The JNU violence, Jamia Milia crackdown, the Shaheen Bhag, Jaffrabad metro station, Chand Bagh police attacks, the stone pelting of maulanas – were all there.

But the stories of the protestors were never told. I would have liked to know why 70 year-old-women, dubbed as the ‘grannies of Shaheen Bhag’ chose to squat on the streets for weeks. This, especially in Delhi, where the weather is never agreeable.

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While the anti-Hindu rhetoric was well covered, the insecurities that led to protests were not told. The ground-level interviews should have asked them why. In fact, one of the unnamed protestors seems to have warded off the question saying, “You know,” indicating that she doesn’t know.

By the factor of omission

While describing the Chand Bhag where a few thousands of people surrounded the police and beat them, it was mentioned that a few Hindus had helped them – an unverifiable piece of information.

The most startling omission of the book is the famous photograph where police had stood by as a man wielded a gun, was never explained. The attack on JNU students and its student body president Aishe Ghosh, by masked men was also never mentioned. It was largely believed to be by the RSS-affiliate ABVP, a charge which was vehemently denied by both the bodies.

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All in all, the book lacks character. It is not as sharp as Nathuram Godse’s Why I killed Gandhi? It also does not bring out the anger and ire of right wing reactionaries. So, even fans of anti-Islamic literature can give this book a miss.

Also Read: Delhi Riots 2020: Garuda Prakashan says they have got an overwhelming response with 30,000 preorders

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