NEW DELHI, JUNE 22
This Sunday, Daryaganj just wasn’t its usual self. There were no yellowed texts stacked against the walls, no literature scattered and littered on the pavements, no hawkers shouting names of authors and no book lovers pushing their way through the bookish pavements. Daryaganj just wasn’t its usual self this Sunday and it might not be the same way ever again. As Daryaganj police decides to bring down the instances of pick pocketing and traffic congestion and MCD distances itself from the issue, the 45-year-old-book market for which people come even from other states faces the brunt.
“Police can close the market anytime if there is a law and order problem because of it. It is 45 years old but if state has the permission for the market once, it can as well take it back,” says DCP Central Jaspal Singh. Singh did not know that his subordinates had closed the market on Sunday though.
The around one-kilometer stretch of Delhi, which is the book lovers ‘Perian spring’, does not have any official permission but the book hawkers had been allowed to sit there every Sunday for the last four decades. But now, the Daryaganj police decided that it would not allow the market to be there in its present shape because of the traffic jams and crimes like pick pocketing and teasing of women.
The police say that it is hard to manage the market on Sundays because of so much rush. The SHO of Daryaganj police station is on a leave and the Additional SHO closed the market saying he was short of staff. “It is not only the book sellers but the cloth sellers and others have also come there. There are regular jams and eve teasing and they have started to use even the road for their goods,” says Adnl SHO, Daryaganj, Madan Lal.
The customers, many of who buy books only from here, some collect books, some art, and some even plan their visits to Delhi in a way that they could buy books here on Sunday left without a whimper this Sunday. Customers asked each other on the pavements as there was not even a single hawker to ask and when they heard that police had cleared the market, it is an immediate heartbreak. “This was one place where we could buy books really cheap and those books which we cant find anywhere. How can the police just come and close this market? We have come from 20 kilometers just to buy books,” says Pradeep Sharma, an MBA student.
Infact, the police hadn’t even told the hawkers that they would not be allowed to sell books on Sunday. “We came out in the morning with our sacks and an hour later, police came over and asked us to empty the pavement as it was because of us that the crime rate was increasing,” says Subhash Aggarwal, President of the Sunday Daryaganj Book Bazaar Association. The book bazaar employs around 250 people who sell books there.
There have been questions on this market even in the past and the issue is currently subjudice. The MCD says that it has nothing to do with this market and police can do what ever it wants to if it is a law and order problem. “We are not even in the picture. This market has no documents and is illegal and it has been allowed to be there only on humanitarian grounds. The police surely can close it,” says MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur.
For the ignorant customers who might be planning to come next Sunday, and the hawkers who have a stockpile of books in Godown, the future is uncertain.