Delhi

Visitors fill pages to save Daryaganj’s weekly bazaar

Before and after: Daryaganj wears a deserted look on Sunday after the High Court passed an order to ensure no weekly bazaars on the stretch; (inset) the Sunday market in May this year before the order.

Before and after: Daryaganj wears a deserted look on Sunday after the High Court passed an order to ensure no weekly bazaars on the stretch; (inset) the Sunday market in May this year before the order.  

The Sunday market has been under threat since HC order in July

Street vendors of the weekly book market in Daryaganj on Sunday took notebooks to fight a recent High Court order to vacate the stretch at Netaji Subhash Marg.

They distributed diaries to visitors to fill out testimonials urging authorities to reverse the action. Reams of pages were filled up by people from all over Delhi, Aligarh, Lucknow, Faridabad and even other countries.

For Rohan Srivastav, the Sunday book market has been a place where one can find cheap and often rare books. “As a student, it used to be a goldmine for me. It will be sad if this place shuts down,” he told The Hindu while heading towards one of the bookstores, which was still open. Several testimonials along the same lines were recorded both in Hindi and English.

On July 3, the Delhi High Court had said, “No weekly bazaar shall be permitted on Netaji Subhash Marg for hawking/squatting”.

The North body had submitted a list of squatting and non-squatting areas to the court. In the list, Netaji Subhash Marg was shown as a non-squatting area. The police also highlighted the congestion in the area and said permitting weekly bazaar will hinder the smooth flow of traffic.

Oppose relocation

Authorities had proposed that the vendors may shift to Ramlila Maidan instead. However, the vendors had opposed the idea. “It is an unsafe area...people urinate on the walls. There are all kinds of rallies taking place there. It is a terrible place for a book market,” said vice-president of the Ganj Patri Sunday Book Bazar Welfare Association, Ashrafi Lal.

“Khushwant Singh once called this market sone ki chidiya [golden bird] for its rare collection,” said Lal. “Sheila Dikshit, Sonia Gandhi and even the Municipal Commissioner of the area [who is carrying out the action] said they come here to buy books,” he said, adding that all sorts of books from textbooks to encyclopaedias, second-hand and even rare books are sold here. “Even the World Book Fair can’t compete with us,” he said.

This market is a “natural bazaar” that developed in the area over the years, said Suresh Verma, who holds a PG diploma in book publishing.

“No one had set it up. It became famous on its own. There is no other place like this.” To move to a different area would mean a major loss of business, claimed vendors. “We used to sell books on a one-and-a-half km stretch before this. It was curtailed to 500 metres but we adjusted. Now, our books are laid out in such a way that there is enough space for pedestrians,” said Mr. Verma.

Mr. Verma said despite being identified as a non-squatting zone, teh bazari licences are regularly issued by the North body. “Isn’t this a contradiction? We have now been told that once a town vending committee for the City SP zone is formed, it will look into the issue,” he added.

Kanupriya Dinghra, a doctoral candidate at SOAS University in London, who is studying the market as part of her Ph.D thesis said she is helping the vendors with their campaign. “In the past, whenever the market has been shut down — like in 1995 and 2015 — it was because of public movements and efforts of the press, including writings of Khushwant Singh and Ramchandra Guha, that helped this market survive.”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 2:38:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/visitors-fill-pages-to-save-daryaganjs-weekly-bazaar/article28816720.ece

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