Jitendra Bhargava, whose book The Descent of Air India has been withdrawn from the market by his publishers, Bloomsbury, has decided to either republish it himself or get a new publisher. He told dna on Thursday that he held the copyright to the book and he was perfectly within his legal rights to have the book published again.
dna had reported on Wednesday that Bloomsbury, which is a multinational publishing firm, had decided to withdraw the book from the market following an out-of-court settlement with former civil aviation minister Praful Patel.
Patel had filed a defamation case in a Mumbai metropolitan magistrate’s case last November against Rajiv Beri of Bloomsbury and Bhargava. Beri opted to enter into an out-of-court
settlement with Patel through the latter’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde.
Bhargava said it was shocking that Bloomsbury decided to strike a deal with Patel behind his back. “I am the author of the book and yet Bloomsbury did not think it necessary to keep me in the loop,” he added.
The former Air India official, who is in a combative mood, said he won’t compromise with Patel in any way. “Instead, I will fight the defamation case filed against me by him on my own till the end,” he asserted.
He said Bloomsbury had gone through his manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, whetted its contents from the legal viewpoint and decided to publish it only after that. “I have documentary evidence for each allegation I have levelled in my book. I challenge Patel to do a point-by-point refutation of these allegations. I am a responsible person and will not say something which is not backed with documentary proof,” Bhargava said.
Patel had told dna that he did not assert any pressure on Bloomsbury to withdraw the book, but chose to legally oppose the “baseless” and “defamatory” allegations levelled against him by Bhargava. However, Bhargava noted that Bloomsbury had decided to print the second edition of the book despite receiving a legal notice for defamation sent by Patel to it.
“If the publishing company had any reservations about the book, it would not have ordered a reprint and that too after receiving the legal notice from Patel. Obviously something has happened after the company decided to reprint the book, which compelled it to go in for an out-of-court settlement and withdraw the books,” Bhargava reasoned.
The staff at Strand Book Stall and Kitab Khana, two prominent book stores of south Mumbai, said that about a fortnight ago officials of Bloomsbury had arrived at their shops and taken away all copies of Bhargava’s book, which seeks to analyse the causes for the decline of Air India.
Bhargava alleged that soon after the book was published, the bookshops in Mumbai and Delhi airport were asked by unidentified persons not to stock the copies. “A book on Air India ought to have been in the bookshops at India’s leading airports, but the owners were asked not to stock my book,” Bhargava alleged.
The decision of Bloomsbury has made Bhargava even more determined to ensure that his book is read by many more people. He said the truth about Air India’s destruction has to be known to the maximum number of people.
The people have a right to know how their national carrier was systematically destroyed by vested interests, he said, adding, “I have nothing personal against Patel. In fact, I have mentioned the good things done by him in my book. Nevertheless, his decisions with regard to Air India should be questioned.”