The Facebook war that wants to spill into the courts

Accusing fellow writer Sanchit Gupta, Rahul Pandita on 6 June threatened legal action against Gupta on Facebook. As the spat got ugly, on 21 September, Pandita told Book Link, ‘I have referred it to the biggest IPR lawyer in India and the…author will soon get to see some fireworks.’ At the time of going to press, however, there has been no legal notice yet from Pandita to Gupta. Rather, Sanchit told Book Link, ‘No, Mr Pandita has not issued any notice. However, considering the state of defamatory post issued on social media by him, my lawyer has issued a defamation notice against him, while citing the inappropriateness of his action and legal precedence to his accusation.
‘On the day of the Facebook post, India Today had published a story based on this post. Soon, they too took cognisance of our notice, understood our response, and very cordially took the story down as well.’
Some months ago, we had a book,The Tree with a Thousand Apples, sent by Niyogi Books for review. It was a fictional tale about Kashmir by Sanchit Gupta and the well-known poet Ayaz Rasool Nazki reviewed it for Book Link. However, we had to postpone the publication, in view of Kashmir affairs writer Rahul Pandita accusing Gupta of plagiarism.
Publisher Bikash De Niyogi has responded to the post saying: ‘On the so-called charges of plagiarism against Sanchit Gupta’s powerful novel on Kashmir, The Tree with a Thousand Apples, Niyogi Books fully supports the position of the author. Sanchit has gathered information about true incidents and cultural nuances from multiple sources including his stay in Kashmir, his Kashmiri friends, as well as news articles, documentaries and non-fiction books. Incidents mentioned in his book are based upon information available in the public domain, which have been presented in a fictionalised manner. We have reviewed Sanchit Gupta’s book in the light of Rahul Pandita’s allegations and do not find any substance to the claim.’
The Facebook post by Kashmiri writer Rahul Pandita said :
A couple of weeks ago, Neelesh Misra was alerted by kind people at the Agra Book Club who had invited a man called Sanchit Gupta who calls himself a screenplay writer and the author of The Tree with a Thousand Apples, published by Niyogi Books sometime in 2016. One of the members of the book club, Shivani Chaturvedi, had read my Kashmir memoir, ‘Our moon has blood clots’ and was taken aback at similarities in few passages. Later, Bhaskar Bhatt from Penguin Random House was shocked to find that Mr Gupta has just picked up passages and anecdotes from my memoir and simply pasted them in his book. In the pictures, look at page 1 and 2, for example. Page 1 is from my book while page 2 is from his. Page 3 is mine and Page 4 is his. How can one be so brazen and stupid in this day and age? And shame of all shames: Mr Gupta has used the name of my dead brother and all his traits (Yamaha motorcycle, Jagjit Singh ghazals) and turned him into his own. Mr Gupta, a legal notice awaits you from my publishers. The editors at Niyogi Books should also be ashamed of themselves.’
Sanchit Gupta has said, ‘We haven’t received a response on our notice from Mr Pandita. However, we have decided to not pursue the matter further and leave it to his good judgment to take down the post.’