Policemen and cars take over the National Library compound on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
National Library was hijacked again on Thursday for a non-academic event, inconveniencing readers.
The event was the annual award ceremony of Calcutta police and the guest of honour was chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who had once expressed displeasure over organising such events at the seat of learning.
In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologised for disturbing the library’s ambience during a CII meeting that he attended.
The next year, the CII had again planned the programme at the library, but had to shift it after Bhattacharjee made public his disapproval of the choice of venue.
The campus calm gave way to chaos as the police took over the Alipore compound in the morning, though the ceremony was scheduled for the evening. The library lawns almost resembled Lalbazar, as police jeeps kept entering and leaving the campus all day. Three-wheelers carrying lights and spotlights added to the mess.
“No Entry” boards were put up at several points and members coming in cars or taxis were stopped at the gate and asked to walk all the way to the reading room.
The rehearsal for police parade, accompanied by the bugle, started in the afternoon and continued till 5.30pm, when the chief minister, home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray and director-general of police A.B. Vohra arrived.
“Such programmes inconvenience the readers but the authorities are not bothered. The library should be used only for educational purposes,” said Sunil Kumar Dutta, the president of Reader’s Forum of National Library.
M. Kabasi, the administrative officer of the library, refused to comment.
Deputy commissioner (headquarters) Vineet Goyel said: “We had taken permission from the library authorities.”