Bloomsbury bows to censorship by union minister Praful Patel

Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt Ltd has grounded the book The Descent of Air India, written by a former executive director of the national carrier, Jitender Bhargava, saying it has stopped publication and withdrawn all copies from bookshelves.

The publisher has also apologised to former civil aviation minister Praful Patel of Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, who is now the union heavy industries minister. Patel is one of those criticised in the book for the decline of the once prestigious airline, which is now afloat only on taxpayers' money.

Patel had filed a criminal defamation case against the publisher and author in a Mumbai court after Bhargava's book was released on 11 October last year.

''I am happy that they (Bloomsbury) have seen the reason that such unsubstantiated information should not be published,'' Patel said today.

Bhargava stood by the truth of his book, and said that he will re-print the book either on his own or through a new publisher. ''My book will be out soon as the facts I have written cannot be suppressed,'' Bhargava said. He added that the book had done well and had gone to a second printing before it was pulled out.

''In the meantime I will go ahead with the e-book and will contest the legal notice as everything I have written is backed by documentary evidence,'' said Bhargava.

He did not rule out taking legal action against Bloomsbury. ''The publisher was not only aware of the content of the book, it had appointed an editor to go through it and printed and re-printed the book,'' he said.

''After the book was released, attempts were made by Praful Patel to obstruct its distribution. Besides ensuring that the books were not sold at airport book stores, he had TV channels drop scheduled programmes relating to the book,'' Bhargava said in a Facebook post.

Bloomsbury in a statement said, ''In the book, the author has made certain comments about Mr Praful Patel if the contents of the book have caused any embarrassment to Mr Patel, we sincerely regret the same as it was never our intention to discredit him in any manner. We shall immediately withdraw the book from the market and destroy its stock available with us.''

The publisher refused to respond to media queries.