Social activists have urged the government to preserve the rare repository of books and manuscripts at a library, which was visited by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose 73 years ago but is in a shambles now.
The Nagrik Pustakalaya in Mehsi, around 47km south of Motihari and 120km northeast of Patna, was founded by a group of residents on September 17, 1935. After attending a public meeting in Mehsi on the invite of freedom fighters Bisheshwar Prasad Azad and Harihar Choudhary, Netaji had visited the library on February 6, 1940. He also made an entry in the visitors’ book.
Residents celebrate the day as a mark of respect for Netaji every year, but no government initiative is forthcoming, sources said.
Over the years, the library has collected more than 8,000 books and nearly 50 manuscripts, including a handwritten Ramayana by Kewal Sah and Dhawal Sah. The library is, however, closed for the past five years. The rare books are turning brittle for lack of maintenance.
Former secretary of the library Thakur Prasad attributed the poor condition of the repository to the lack of government initiative and public interest. Local activist Amar said: “The state government has to come forward with initiatives to preserve the historical library.”
East Champaran district magistrate Abhijit Sinha was unavailable for comment. Additional collector P.K. Bihari said: “I was not aware of the library . We would send a proposal to the state government for the preservation of the books and manuscripts stored in the library. We will also request for funds.”