His library burnt down, Mysuru man now has books from across the globe but a new library remains a distant dream

A man in Mysuru whose street-side library was burnt down five months ago under mysterious circumstances has received thousands of books from across the world to restart his venture, but his wait for a formal site or building for the library continues despite promises by officials.

“I have received books from as far as 12,000 km away but I am unable to get a library built by civic agencies less than 8 km from my home,” says Syed Isaaq, whose collection of books was burnt down on April 8 this year.

The 63-year-old, who has so far received more than 8,000 books from places far and wide including the USA, Canada, England, Dubai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai, now hopes to set up the new library soon and see people from all walks of life using it.

A resident of Rajiv Nagar, Isaaq had been running his library for nearly a decade before miscreants burnt it down. In his quest to promote learning, the man – deprived of an education himself – managed to collect about 11,000 books which he placed at a site owned by the Mysore Urban Development Authority (MUDA).

The spot is now filled with garbage, but such is Isaaq’s determination that to this day, he arrives there every morning around 7 am carrying at least 22 newspapers of different languages, besides some books. With cement blocks for chairs, many stop by the makeshift set-up to sit and read, chief among them being the local autorickshaw drivers. Isaaq’s day draws to a close around 7 pm.

“The last time I met library department officials, they assured me that the foundation stone for the building would be laid on August 12, the National Library Day, but no one got back to me,” he says, adding that his 15×20 feet house has no space for books.

The donations received so far have been given to his acquaintances for safekeeping. Initially, he kept about 750 books at his house, but had to move them when it started flooding.

Chairman of the political science department at the University of Mysore, Muzaffar Assadi too has collected books for Isaaq via crowdfunding. His chamber is filled with about 5,000 books, he says. “Even now, people are sending books. I wish the building gets constructed before my chamber is full.”

The professor says a group of techies from Infosys, Mysuru had collected Rs 35 lakh for Isaaq’s building which they gave to the city authorities. The plan, however, got dropped and the money was returned to the donors. Muzammil Madani, who works at Infosys, says if the government had not promised to construct the building, they would have started the work themselves.

Manjunath B, Deputy Director at the Department of Public Libraries, told The Indian Express that it was initially decided that MUDA, Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and the Libraries Department would equally share the cost, but later the MCC commissioner and Deputy Commissioner got transferred.

MUDA has said that they would not extend financial aid as they had handed over the land. “We are depending on MCC for funds. The estimation for construction of the building is Rs 30-35 lakh. The Library Department will take care of the equipment required,” Manjunath says.

MCC Commissioner Lakshmikanth Reddy, meanwhile, said he had no information on the matter.

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