Who Killed Democracy?

By Mazin Khan

Or should I say, Who Killed Secularism? or Who Killed Humanity? or Who Killed Courage?, Who Killed Logic?, Who Killed Sense?. You get the picture …

This October we published a book, "Who Killed Karkare?" written by a former inspector-general of police, S.M. Mushrif. The book's sub-title is: "The Real Face of terrorism in India."

We expected the book to be controversial, but we've been surprised by the response, especially from the media and from booksellers.

Complacent Media
By law, a publisher is required to send complimentary copies of his books to the four national libraries of India. So, generally that's the first thing we do when we have a new book. Then we start sending review copies to the media, as well as press releases announcing the publication. When we did this for "Who Killed Karkare?", lots of journalists started inquiring about the book. We sent them review copies as well. The author's phone has been ringing ever since the book came out.

Indeed terrorism is a hot topic, so if a book written by an ex-policeman says there is no Islamic terrorism in India - that is a big story. Lots of news channels have asked for the book, have contacted the author, even recorded interviews. Journalists who got review copies tell us that they have filed their reports. But only a few newspapers and only one news channel have carried a report on the book. It appears other news outlets have killed their reporters' stories, coverage was censored.

What could be the reason? Some could claim that the book was poorly researched. But the fact is that it is based on a careful analysis of media reports. So how can journalists write off a book based on their own work? It is true that one may find hard to stomach the author's analysis and conclusion that Brahminists and government agencies work in tandem to alienate Muslims and label them as terrorists. All this means that the media too is trying to bury this hard-hitting book.

Booksellers' cowardice
The response of booksellers has been another shocking experience - de facto censorship. We have contacted leading booksellers about "Who Killed Karkare?" We've sent the cover to many sellers, but none have listed the book on their websites. We visited a leading bookstore near our office, but the owner took one look at the cover and refused to stock the book. 

Meanwhile people in Mumbai are eager to buy the book. So we contacted numerous booksellers in Mumbai: "Sir, I am calling from Pharos Media in Delhi, we have published a book "Who Killed Karkare?" He says, "Who Killed Karkare?" We say yes, it is written by a former IG of Maharashtra police. The responses we got were: "Boss out of Mumbai"; "Shiv Sena/MNS will break my shop"; "Send approval copy"; "Na baba Na"; "Only Maharashtra Books"; "Not interested; Controversial Book" etc.

Only two booksellers agreed to stock the book and only seven agreed to receive sample copies. But the question is how does the bookseller know the contents of the book by just hearing "Who Killed Karkare?" Why does he/she think Shiv Sena will trash them for selling it?

The Problem
As the publishers of the book, we are trying hard to make the book easily available to the readers. It is our duty to make the truth easily accessible.  We wish more booksellers would help us in making this book visible to potential readers. The problem is that mostly only Muslim booksellers and the Muslim media is talking about the book. So, mostly Muslims are reading the book. But our aim is to reach out to the non-Muslim reader.

We hope that the non-English editions of the book do not get the same treatment as the English edition. We hope to have the Urdu and Hindi editions out by the end of this month.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2009 on page no. 1

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