An unauthorized open-air ‘library’ on Dhaka University campus raises eyebrows

Publish: 6:09 PM, February 19, 2022 | Update: 6:09:PM, February 19, 2022

Just across the TSC at the western entrance to Suhrawardy Udyan an open-air makeshift ‘library’ has recently sprung up raising some eyebrows.

Tanvir Hasan Saikat, a former member of Dhaka University Central Student Union(DUCSU) and Deputy Social Service Secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League , has got no permission from the university authorities to set up a wooden shelf with about 80 books.

Just a few days ago the DU authorities evicted from the same site a number of tea stalls on grounds of keeping the place clean and get rid of unwanted gathering.

Saikat, however, defended his move saying he has done it as part of his social service, which is a part of his organisation, BCL.

“Doing social service is my organizational responsibility,” he told UNB. “think it will help us develop our reading habit and thinking power.”

“This is not only a library. I will arrange debates and poem recitation programmes here. This is the little starting of my big dream”, he added.

He did not mind in setting up the book corner without taking any permission from the university authorities.

DU Vice-Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman, however, welcomed Saikat’s initiative launched on February 13.

DU proctor Prof. AKM Golam Rabbani has slightly different view,

Asked to comment on it he told UNB “Establishing libraries is not a bad idea but this place does not demand any library because we have Public library, central library and science library in the neighbourhood.”

“On the other hand this place is not suitable for reading too”, Prof. Rabbani said adding that only a few days ago the authorities cleared the gate of Suhrawardy Udyan by removing the stalls to make the surrounding peaceful.

“The University does not allow such establishment on the campus area and the library of Saikat, set up recently at the gate of Suhrawardy Udyan, is not permitted by DU authority”, he added.

“Tanbir Hasan Saikat has taken a great initiative. His move may make the place really productive. I personally appreciate his work,” said the VC.

He further said “It’s a library though. It is just a practice of a new culture but if we find anything wrong or any disorder regarding this issue, we will take proper steps”, he said.

Explaining his move Saikat said he cleaned the place which was being used by floating shops. “I’ve set up chairs and tables where people can sit and read books for free,” he said.

Asked what kind of response and cooperation he expects from the initiative, he said, “I started the initiative with my own funds. For all intents and purposes, I don’t need any money.”

The makeshift establishment, called Jhapi, contains more than 80 books in the book shelf placed in three categories: a. Bangladesh, Bangabandhu and Independence.

b. Bangla Literature and c. Foreign literature.

“If anyone wants to donate books, he will be welcomed”, Tanbir said.

Salman Siddiki, president of Student Front DU unit, said that at first sight it may look like a good job.

“But if you observe this more closely, you will see that it is a plan of destroying an old culture. There were tea stalls, where students used to have various types of political talks and cultural discussions together. Students from different organisations used to gather there,” he told UNB.

“As Tanbir Hasan is an activist of Chhatra league, students of other organizations may not feel encouraged to go there,” he said adding that “This is a plan of grabbing the place and they did it with the cooperation of University administration.”