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Jamia Nagar police station library showcases rise of aspirational India

The liobrary established with the efforts of social workers and Delhi Police officers is attracting a large number of students.

In Jamia Nagar police station, students, both boys and girls, can be seen moving in and out of the Okhla Vihar Police Station below the Metro Line, with books. But, this has nothing to do with policing or registering complaints. The police station is a library, and that too is a very busy one.

It was established in February 2022 as an idea to help those students who can’t afford a peaceful sitting atmosphere and providing girls of the area a safe environment to study.

Two spacious halls with around 100 desks capacity are part of the library. While one is for general students of any age, the other one is reserved for UPSC aspirants and those preparing for other competitive examinations.

Priyanka Chaudhary, the librarian, told India Narrative that students have to only submit Rs 200 to get membership of the library. “And even this amount is refundable and thus the library is totally free for students,” she said.

She added that free Wifi, 8 newspapers (Hindi and English), 15 magazines (Hindi and English) and other large variety of reference books are available for students. “Students, like what happens in other libraries, can borrow books for one week,” she said.

Chaudhary said that 730 students are currently registered for study at the library and that it opens from 9 in the morning till 7 in the evening.

The library is managed by an NGO, Shikhar. It attracts students from various sub localities of Jamia Nagar as well as from nearby Jasola Vihar and Sarita Vihar.

When students are unable to find seats here, we send them to the nearby Jamia Nagar Police Station which also has a hall run as library, Chaudhary told India Narrative.

The library also runs coaching classes in association with educators including senior IPS officers and other civil servants.

Anam, a worker with Shikhar, said that the idea of establishing libraries in police stations has been that of IPS officer (now retired) Rakesh Aasthana. “There are 12 such libraries in different police stations all over Delhi. They all are running on the same model which aims to provide easy, safe and free study space and material to students who otherwise can’t afford commercial study spaces which are mushrooming in the capital now,” she said.

Commercial libraries in the locality as checked by this correspondent cost Rs 3,000-5000 per person.

Some of the students while talking to India Narrative said that they sit in the library almost the whole day and it has never bothered them that they are inside a police station. “It’s in fact a feeling of safety while being here. We can sit here till evening and our parents don’t worry much,” said Rijuwana Parveen, a student preparing for UPSC prelims.

Chaudhary said that the library keeps staff of two people and both of them are girls.

She also informed that the library has also kept computer systems so that students who have to attend online classes or seminars can do it from here.

One student who studied in the library has been selected for MBBS through NEET and one has qualified UPSC prelim and is now preparing for his mains in the same library. “Plus, a number of them have got admissions in various courses in Jamia Millia Islamia. The library is bearing fruits and the increasing number of students coming for membership is testimony of its popularity in the surrounding areas,” Chaudhary told India Narrative.

Since students are studying and not wasting their time, parents and locals of the area are also happy. “Feedback from locals is fabulous. Many of them say that this is the most positive development in the area,” said Shyoram Yadav, Station House Officer of the police station.