J&K police officer reaches out with books

For decades, Hut Number 224, located amid pine trees in Srinagar’s Chashmashahi locality, was like any other senior bureaucrat’s home. But for many weeks now, the address has become a hub for Kashmiri students looking for a particular subject book that is otherwise hard to find or unaffordable. The house’s current occupant is the Odisha-born, 45-year-old Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Basant Kumar Rath, who has initiated a novel campaign to reach out to the student community in Jammu and Kashmir. With help from anonymous donors and adding his own purchases from Sunday markets, Mr. Rath has gathered a sizeable collection of 2.5 lakh books. The distribution model is simple. ‘Book baba’ is a Google docs-based form set up by the officer, where a student can tender her request for a book. Besides, availability of various book titles is messaged on other social media platforms too. Timings to collect books and the district names are specified on Mr. Rath’s Twitter handle with a note: “No questions asked. No answers given”. A medical student from Ladakh studying in Srinagar, an arts student from far-off Langate, a science student from remote Baramulla’s Boniyar and a management student from Budgam’s Yusmarg — have all come discreetly and returned with the books sought by them, after a brief conversation with the officer to establish their credentials. More than 1,500 books have been picked up in recent weeks. “I have over 4,000 book requests pending on ‘Book Baba’ page,” Mr. Rath told The Hindu . “I seek students’ coordinates for a fair distribution. In many cases, the books get delivered at their homes.” It’s no surprise that a place like volatile Nowhatta in Srinagar, where a police officer cannot move around freely without a multi-layer security, saw Mr. Rath receive a warm welcome during his recent visit to the Girls Higher Secondary School in the locality.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/jk-police-officer-reaches-out-with-books/article28432805.ece

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