The Amritsar Book Fair, which was inaugurated with pomp and show on April 22, concluded without any ceremonial event at Khalsa College here today. Officials of the National Book Trust (NBT), who organized the fair, and publishers, who had set up their stalls, had a bitter experience as students of Khalsa College had been on strike since Wednesday. Almost all publishers left yesterday. Moreover, the convener of the Amritsar Book Fair also returned to New Delhi. Misardeep Bhatia, the convener of the book fair, said, “After a student committed suicide on Wednesday, students locked the gates of the college.
Next morning, they did not allow anyone to enter the building. The publishers got panicked and packed their books next day. We also left the fair on Friday. We have witnessed such circumstances for the first time.”Mukesh Kumar, one of the officials of the NBT, said, “We did not calculate the collection of books sold in the fair. The sale is too low. We were worried about our books and other valuables. So we decided to end the fair yesterday.”The fair had started on April 22 and scheduled to end on April 30. The organizers had planned to conduct sessions on various genres of literature. The NBT failed to organize the sessions slated for Thursday due to the protest.
Jasbir Soni from People’s Forum, a publishing house, said, “We were expecting a good sale of books in the eight-day book fair in the historical city. But it was disappointing. Students did not allow the visitors to enter the college campus. We left the fair with a broken heart.”Book lovers were also left disappointed with the disruption of the fair. “I had planned to buy classic books of Punjabi literature from the fair at the weekend. The protest erupted at Khalsa College all of a sudden and students didn’t allow anyone to enter the campus,” said Sandip Singh, a teacher.