Today being National Librarian’s Day, I wish to talk about a new library that charmed me.
I came to know of it from a Facebook post of Kolkata Police. Known as Kolkata Police Museum on Google Maps, its full name is Kolkata Police Museum, Library and Cafeteria. It’s located at 112 Ripon Street (on the left approaching Wellington).
I visited it with three friends who got interested hearing of it (two of them read the Facebook post too). The museum is small and spread over two floors. Its main attraction is arms seized by police from various periods of history dating back to pre-independence era.
Photograph by Arnab Banerjee
It shows the evolution of the police uniform since the colonial times. The winners of various awards/ honours of police are listed. It states that Natha Singh was the first Indian to win a traffic roll of honour and he won honours in two consecutive years, 1938 and 1939. A section familiarizes with various badges of the ranks of police which is an important civil information.
The history of the house is interesting too. The second prince (Mejokumar) of the Bhawal Estate aka 'Sanyasi Raja' (The monk king), thanks to the popular Bengali movie of the same name made on him, fought the famous Bhawal Monk case (One of the most extraordinary cases in Indian judicial history which took place in 1933-1936,. As it happened, a monk came to the estate and claimed himself to be the Mejokumar who was known to have died eleven years back, and demanded his share of the estate. Available documents show that it was the residence of Calcutta High Court Barrister RS Tweedle in 1874. After changing hands it landed with lawyer SN Matilal (in 1912) whose daughter Sarajubala Devi was married to the first prince of the Bhawal estate. It went to be part of the estate thereafter.
The house was decided to be demolished given its pathetic condition at a point of time. Kolkata Police took it as a challenge to restore it, and I must say they have done an exemplary job! Post the restoration, it was declared a 'Restored Heritage Building of the City' by INTACH.
Coming to the library. The kinds of books in its collection took me by surprise as it completely beats the perception of a police library. I later realised it was by design, thanks to the Commissioner of Police Mr Rajiv Kumar as it has been envisioned as a centre for police-citizen connect. The CP is so attached to it that it is said to be his second home and he is often seen there. The surprise element is that it has a wide collection of books for all the members of a family, from the junior to the seniormost. There is a large number of titles in fiction and non-fiction in English and Bengali, study books (like management). And…..hold your breath…they have a mind-boggling collection of comic books in English to pull the children. Imagine a police library keeping a huge collection of Tintin, Asterix, Marvel, DC and more!!
As Sub-Inspector S Sharma, the friendly gentleman who acquainted us through the library, told us, it is open seven days a week, 11 am to 7 pm. However, the best time to visit is weekend as it is much less crowded then. They encourage one to come with the whole family and spend a good number of hours there. To help the purpose, there’s a cool cafe, interestingly named Off Duty Delights, which serves (non-alcoholic) beverages and a good range of snacks. We liked the iced tea.
The membership fee is Rs 800 per annum plus Rs 100 as a one-time cost of card. You can take books or DVD or both and keep upto two books for a maximum of four weeks.
#NationalLibrariansDay #Library #Museum #Heritage #History
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