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Libraries in police stations: building bridges through books

The country’s police and public have always had a somewhat fear-based relationship. For years, the authorities have been trying to bridge the gap. With proper maintenance, libraries can paint a better picture of the font in the minds of the general public.

October 28, 2022, 12:25 p.m.

Last modification: October 28, 2022, 12:32 p.m.

The small library at Kamrangirchar Police Station offers a mix of novels by popular writers such as Humayun Ahmed and historical books such as Karagarer Rojnamcha and Oshomapto Attojiboni by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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The small library at Kamrangirchar Police Station offers a mix of novels by popular writers such as Humayun Ahmed and historical books such as Karagarer Rojnamcha and Oshomapto Attojiboni by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Photo: Noor-A-Alam

When you think of a police station, you usually think of a scary place. After all, this is where hardened criminals are taken after being caught.

However, if you really think about it, the real job of the police is to serve the general public by keeping them safe. With this in mind, two police stations in the capital (Kamrangirchar and Lalbagh) have taken the unusual step of setting up reading corners or small libraries, as part of the Nari, shishu, boyoshko o pratibondhi assistance service, in the spirit to serve the community.

Victims and others entering can read books while they wait inside.

On entering the premises of Kamrangirchar Police Station, a small alley leads to the main building and the first room on the ground floor is the help desk. Usually a female sub-inspector (SI) sits here to provide primary aid to victims. In the same room are two wooden shelves with books and a small reading table and a few chairs.

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

On the shelves is a mix of fiction from popular writers such as Humayun Ahmed, as well as other historical books such as Karagarer Rojnamcha and Oshomapto Attojiboni by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

We were greeted by Mostafizur Rahman, Officer in Charge (OC) of Kamrangirchar Police Station, who told us that although the library was done on a small scale, he intends to improve things over time.

He said setting up the libraries was the brainchild of Additional Deputy Police Commissioner Nishat Rahman Mithun. She is currently on maternity leave.

“As you know Kamrangirchar is a densely populated area and we have people coming to the station all the time. Sometimes they have to wait for some time before they can file a complaint etc.,” he said. said, adding, “Instead of waiting, they can sit at the library and read some books.”

“When we were young, we used to run away in fear if we saw a policeman nearby. This is no longer the case, people know that the police are there to help them. Readers of all ages come to read books and c “It’s something we feel good about too. Sometimes our officers read them as well,” he said.

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Mostafizur Rahman also shared that if readers wish, they can take books home and there is a registry to keep diaries. If people wish, they can also donate books to the library. Some of the books were donated by other police officers and an area school also provided some, he said.

“When we [the police station] will move into a bigger complex, we will work to have a bigger and better library,” he said.

The OC of Lalbagh Police Station was at work so we spoke to Md Anisur Rahman, Inspector (Operation). He told The Business Standard that their library is also open to everyone and the response from locals has been good.

“It’s a good initiative and we all appreciate it. A library in a police station is not only useful, but also gives a more positive image of the police,” he said.

The newly built Lalbagh Police Station has set aside a small room on the second floor for the help desk and library. On a large shelf on one of the walls were books, including legal aid guides. A thin layer of dust covered them.

This one seemed better arranged than the Kamrangirchar one and the SI in charge of the help desk, Mukti Dutta Ama, told us that readers from outside could not yet take books home and that they hadn’t thought about accepting book donations from people yet. She said she sometimes sat down and read when the work was light.

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

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Photo: Noor-A-Alam

Photo: Noor-A-Alam

When we visited the reading corners of the police stations, it was difficult to be impressed by the quantity of books and the small storage. Nor were there many readers.

However, initiatives like these are certainly worth appreciating. While no one expects a full-fledged library in a police station, just having a few books creates a better ambience and shows the police in a better light.

It would be great if, over time, this initiative spread to all police stations and the number of books increased.

Apart from these police stations, there is another reading nook at Dhaka Railway Police Station in Kamalapur. Unlike those two, it is built inside the hajat (detention cell). It was built from a humanitarian angle to help prisoners.

Recently, Metropolitan Chattogram Police (CMP) set up libraries in six police stations including Khulshi, Kotwali and Double Mooring. This initiative was taken by Saleh Mohammad Tanvir, former commissioner of the CMP.

These libraries contain 300 to 600 books on a variety of subjects, including poetry, detective fiction, law, liberation warfare, and policing. The authorities of the CMP plan to build 16 other libraries in other police stations under its jurisdiction.

The country’s police and public have always had a somewhat fear-based relationship. For years, authorities have tried to bridge the gap in the relationship and raise awareness of the helpful nature of the police. With proper maintenance, hopefully, these libraries will continue to paint a better picture of the police in the minds of the general public.