Karnataka

Activists raise ‘inconvenient’ question on library issue

“How did officials allow encroachment of public land for a library?”. This was an ‘inconvenient’ question raised by a group of citizen activists in Mysuru more than 10 days after a library set up by 62-year-old Syed Ishaq in Rajiv Nagar was destroyed in a fire.

The activists including Bhamy V. Shenoy and six others have written a letter to Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Commissioner and marked a copy to Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) Commissioner regretting the failure of the officials to take action when Mr. Ishaq started a library on a Civic Amenities (CA) site belonging to the MUDA.

Though the group of citizens described Mr Ishaq’s “noble goal of giving easy access to books and newspapers to readers in Rajiv Nagar” as “most admirable”, they said it was “most unfortunate” that nobody has raised the ‘inconvenient’ question so far.

“When we first read his story in the media, our initial reaction was how did the officials allow an encroachment on public land. However, as we learnt more – like an illiterate starting a library, tiny shed having 11,000 books, spending ₹8,000 per month to support the library despite his limited wage earnings, support for promoting Kannada books, having hundreds of books like Bhagavad Gita, Bible and Quran etc, our emotions took over. Some of us even wrote a letter suggesting that we need to raise funds (we were not aware of the crowd funding then) to help him”, the letter said.

However, the letter said the episode took a different turn with politicians, Ministers, officials coming forward to compete with one another to get involved. “Even at the risk of being misunderstood, some of us, who have taken a principled stand against various encroachments in the past, want to raise a fundamental question”.

The letter referred to their earlier campaigns against encroachment or violation of law during the construction of a building in Cheluvamba Park, a library in People’s Park, besides other residential buildings or shops.

“During the long years since 2011 when Mr. Ishaq started the library in a CA site belonging to MUDA, why did the officials fail to take action? Even now when we all know that Mr. Ishaq has violated the rule of law, what is the right thing to do? Just ignore the illegality as we seem to be doing”, the letter asked.

“…Should we just forget the encroachment even when done with the noble motive?”, the letter said while referring to the rampant violation of law that also includes “misallocation and misuse of CA sites….”.

Apart from Mr. Shenoy, the letter had also been signed by C.R. Aswathanarayan, Shoba Sambasivan, Venkatesh Kharidi, Roy Joseph, Nanjapur Yaduraju and Usha Yaduraju.

However, speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Shenoy clarified that they were not opposed to the construction of a permanent library building in the spot in Rajiv Nagar by the government agencies after due allocation of land for the purpose.

EoM

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 12:05:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/activists-raise-inconvenient-question-on-library-issue/article34377025.ece

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