Agartala : The 34th Agartala Book fair got off to a flying start here at Agartala on Sunday afternoon with hundreds of people thronging the fair complex in front of Umakanta Academy English medium school.
Altogether 121 including 35 local book sellers and publishers opened stalls in the fair, which will continue up to February 25 next.
Other than Tripura booksellers from Kolkata, Assam, Delhi, Goa, Kerala and Bangladesh participated in the fair.
The inaugural programme was attended by a host of dignitaries including Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Bhanulal Saha and eminent Bangladesh painter and artist Mohammad Hasem Khan.
In his speech as chief guest the Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, focused on the importance of book fair as a major cultural event and the deepening socio-economic and political crisis in India.
Sarkar expressed his concern over consistent violation of constitution and rule of law by the party ruling at centre. He however did not specifically named the BJP or central government but raised the issue of intolerance and religious fundamentalism and in which the Book Fair can play a major role in uniting the people against all these.
“Against intolerance based on the ideology of secularism for strengthening the unity of mankind we should be able to move ahead. To spread all these amongst the citizens of our state the book fair should be dedicated. What I feel is that in the present situation of our country this book fair is very much necessary, related and relevant,” said Sarkar.
“In the name of Hindu religion the manner in which a malign chapter is being attempted to be brought forward, we feel that this is an insult of Hinduism and damaging it. Those who believe in Hinduism and have read the religious texts can anyone show where there is any mention about that people from other religion should be hated and at any cost and if necessary with force be converted into Hindu religion. Where is this mentioned? Is there any other bigger Hindu Indian then Vivekananda?” he added.
In the inauguration programme, ICA Minister Bhanulal Saha, special secretary of ICA department Soumitra Bandopadhya and director of ICA department Shantanu Debbarman also delivered their speeches.
Focused on youth and children, the annual festival is organised by the Information Cultural Affairs (ICA) Department of Tripura with the cooperation of the state publishers.
Book lovers consider the fair to be a golden opportunity for getting the best collection of their favourite writer which they rarely get to see in the Agartala market during the other time of the year.
Subash Singha Ray, a book lover from Bangladesh said: “Those who are engaged with books are tolerant, mankind loving and patronise democracy, culture and lenience. There shall be differences in views and outlooks but books shall unite us in one platform. Later year there were 400 stall in the Bangladesh Book Fair but this year the number of stalls had increased to 600 and during January the fundamentalists conspired to burn the entire Bangladesh but still people came out to buy books.”
Writers and publishers are also very happy about the fair doing good business.
The objective of this fair is to generate reading habits among the youths, encourage writers and publishers as hundreds of books are released on the occasion.
In spite of the new generation attracted towards internet and e-book every year there is an increase in selling of books during the fair.
The Agartala Book Fair started in the year 1981 and is the only state government sponsored fair in the country. (ANI)