Book-lovers are unable to visit the book fair amid the nationwide lockdown imposed from Monday
The Amar Ekushey Book Fair is missing its usual lustre.
The fair is being held after being postponed several times, but readers are now unable to attend the fair amid the nationwide lockdown.
After moving around the fair premises for two hours, this correspondent found a minimal number of visitors and even noticed some sales associates sleeping in their chairs due to an absence of customers.
No more than 20 visitors were seen entering the Suhrawardy Uddyan premises in these two hours, according to an on-duty law enforcer near the entry gate.
Mehedi Hasan, a salesperson of Ayon Prokashoni, said that he had been working there as a salesman for three years but he had never experienced such a desolate book fair before.
He said: “It is better to stop the book fair right now rather than continue with it.
“We are here as a formality, not to sell anything, as our hopes were gone at the very beginning of the fair.”
Sijan Rahaman, manager of Chalantika Prokashoni, said that the book fair organizing committee was continuing the book fair amid the ongoing restrictions imposed by the government. It was kept open for mere show, he claimed.
“We are in a loss due to the continuation of the book fair as we have to bear expenses regarding our salesmen,” he added.
Publisher of Tamrolipi publication AKM Tariqul Islam was upset as people were not visiting the fair but said that there was no way but to accept the government’s decision.
However, he expects that as public transports will run from Wednesday visitors will come to the fair again.
“Bangla Academy did not ask whether we wanted this fair or not. They just announced their decision. By now they have changed the visiting hours three times and they did not even bother to ask the publishers,” he added.
Tariqul complained: “Bangla Academy arranged the fair but none of their officials comes to the fair premises, so we cannot tell them about our objections. Except through Bangla Academy there is no other way to reach the government. We have kept our patience for so many days but there is now no more patience left. Within two or three days we will take necessary action.”
On the other hand, Habibullah Siraji, director general of Bangla Academy, the organizer of the book fair, told Dhaka Tribune: “If we get anything in written form, then we will think about postponing the book fair. However, we have not received any written application yet. Everyone says many things verbally but that is not acceptable.”
When asked about subsidies, the Bangla Academy DG said: “The government has already given subsidies and for that reason they [publishers] are able to continue the fair with half the rent. So, it is not at all true that the government has ordered a continuation of the fair just because it does not want to give subsidies to publishers.”
He also stated that the fair was going on as per the government’s instructions and Bangla Academy did not have anything to say here.