Delhi bookstore cancels discussion on Teesta's memoir citing 'volatile' situation

Teesta Setalvad, Anil Dharkar and Siddarth Bhatia at the release of Foot Soldier of the Constitution: a Memoir by Teesta Setalvad, in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: Shantanu Das

The popular Oxford Bookstore in Connaught Place has cancelled a discussion on activist Teesta Setalvad’s new memoir that it was supposed to host on March 6, citing the “volatile” situation in Delhi.

The discussion between Ms. Setalvad and journalist Hartosh Singh Bal on her recently-released book Foot Soldier of the Constitution had been planned weeks ago by The Caravan, Oxford Bookstore and LeftWord Books, the publisher of the memoir. But on Friday, the publisher of the book, Sudhanva Deshpande, the managing editor of LeftWord Books, received an email from the bookstore saying it would not be able to host the event.

As per the email by Maina Bhagat, the director of Apeejay Oxford Bookstores Pvt. Ltd., March 6 was “uncomfortably close to the forthcoming elections” and the situation had been “further exasperated by the recent student protests in the city”. While it was not mentioned in the email, the bookstore's decision comes in the wake of a seminar organised at Ramjas College being attacked by the ABVP over an invitation to Umar Khalid, the JNU student who was implicated in a case of sedition last year.

“The mood in the Capital is very volatile and I am sure that the all partners - LeftWord, Caravan and Oxford Bookstore - would not like to entertain the remotest possibility of disruption by external elements to mar the event in any way,” the email stated.

Reacting to the decision of the bookstore, Ms. Setalvad said that it was shocking.

“The book was launched in Mumbai on February 24; we had events at the Assi Ghat in Benares and at JNU in Delhi without any trouble. I feel Oxford Bookstore may have been under some pressure,” she said.

Mr. Bal added that the event would go on, shifting the venue to the Press Club.

Ms. Bhagat declined to comment on the matter. “What is there to say,” she told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, Swaraj India national president Yogendra Yadav said on Saturday that an event organised by the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce where he was to speak had been postponed.

“Another DU college chickens out! I was to speak on meaning and significance of dissent at DCAC youth meet tomorrow. Just told it’s postponed!” he tweeted.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 10:54:43 AM |

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