Mysuru: It seems that Mysuru residents are determined to give those miscreants a befitting reply who had set ablaze the city's iconic 'public library' on April 2.
The library that housed over 11,000 books, was the brainchild of a drainage cleaner Syed Issaq, 62, who had built it in a low-income area of Mysuru to spread literacy.
Mysuru resident Fathaheen Misbah, an IT Professional, had started a fundraiser on Ketto.org to extend financial support to rebuild Issaq's library.
"Within 48 hours of the fundraiser going live on Ketto, the campaign collected around Rs 25 lakh and now reaching Rs 28.44 lakh, just short of his goal of achieving Rs 35 lakh," Misbah said.
She thanked all those who had generously contributed to Issaq's cause.
"So far more than 1,800 persons have contributed to this cause," she said on Ketto crowdfunding site.
"Though we have achieved our initial planned amount to collect Rs 25 lakh within 48 hours but contributions still continue to pour in.
As it has been only a short while since we have started this campaign therefore we decided to extend this campaign for some more time to enable those who are still looking at supporting this cause," she added.
Misbah said that she was planning the 'best way' to make use of contributions and will come up with an action plan soon.
Meanwhile, Mysuru City Corporation too has come to Issaq's rescue as the MCC Commissioner Shilpa Nag along with Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) Commissioner D. B. Natesh and Deputy Director of Department of Public Libraries B. Manjunath visited the site and announced allocation of the land to the public library run by Issaq.
The land where Issaq ran his library over the past few years belongs to MUDA and the MUDA Commissioner has agreed to earmark it for the department of public libraries where a brick-and-mortar library would come up.
In addition, there is a library committee under the chairmanship of the Mysuru Mayor, to which Issaq will be appointed as a special invitee where a necessary decision relevant to the issue will be taken, the MCC Commissioner said.
She asserted that the library will be restored to its former glory along with Issaq's vision who will be made in-charge of the library.
Issaq used to work as a bonded labourer during his childhood and was deprived of education. But he had the gumption to set up a library to help poor students in a locality where many come from meagre income groups.
With this sole aim, he had set up a 'public library' in a vacant government plot in 2011 by saving around Rs 6,000 from his odd jobs including cleaning drains.
In the decade-long existence of this library, it had a collection of over 11,000 books. Besides this, he also offered 17 newspapers in Kannada, Urdu, English, Telugu and Tamil languages. Most of the books were in Kannada with some of the books also being available in English, Urdu and Tamil.
He is well known among those living in the Rajiv Nagar and Shanti Nagar areas of Mysuru since he started the library and gave people in the neighbourhood free access to it for nearly a decade.
According to Issaq the operation of the library was pretty simple, he would open it in the morning and then leave for his own day job.
"During the day people could take any book or newspaper from the library without having to pay any fees or deposit. There would be at least 100-150 people who would visit here daily," he said.
Issaq said that there were no records or employees kept for the library as people would return the book taken from the library on their own.
"In the evening, I would return and close the library for the day. It was running smoothly until April 2, when my library was burnt down by someone," he rued.
All he wanted was for others to read and learn Kannada and among his book collection, nearly 80 per cent was dedicated to Kannada books.
"It was in the wee hours of the morning that a man living near the library premises informed me that a fire had broken out inside. But it was too late when I got there. I could do nothing but stand there helplessly as the flames only got higher and engulfed the whole building," Issaq told IANS.
Commenting on the fundraiser success Issaq said that his library has been burnt down, but not his spirit.
"I will rebuild it all over again. I am overwhelmed with the response I have received for the fundraiser. I would like to extend my gratitude to each and every donor for their support and contribution, thanks to you all I will rebuild the library and serve people once again.
"I couldn't go to school or have the privilege of learning to read and write as a child, which is probably why I am so passionate about others learning to do so. Let us show these criminals that they cannot crush people's desire to learn and acquire knowledge," Issaq asserted.
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