TIRUNELVELI: By the nondescript police outpost inside the Valliyur bus stand stands a well-arranged library, a few flower garlands and festoons left from its Thursday inauguration cling to its entrance. Around 4,500 books of various genres grace its neat sky-blue shelves. Several adults and students sit engrossed in books at a reading-area equipped with steel furniture.
This is the new police library in Valliyur, first-of-its-kind in the district and the brainchild of Inspector Shahul Hameed, who believes the light of letters can shine a path to people’s hearts and mend the damaged public-police relationship.
The idea of establishing a police library dawned upon Hameed shortly after he joined the Valliyur station four months ago. Though full of will, he lacked the one thing that a library needs the most – books. But it didn’t take him long to come up with a solution, and ingenious one at that.
After declaring his mission tomes from the rooftops, Hameed went around installing what he calls ‘book hundials’ at Valliyur and Panagudi areas, so willing individuals can donate books. Hearing his initiative, many police and other officials, too, pitched in, with Cheranmahadevi Sub-Collector Siva Krishnamoorthy alone donating 500 books. Within a few months, Hameed built up a collection of around 4,500 books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Now that he had the books, Hameed and his like-minded colleagues scouted for a place to house them. After deliberation, they decided to build the library near the police outpost inside the Valliyur bus stand, a decision many residents term well-thought. “The youth will greatly benefit from this library as it is located at the centre of Valliyur, inside the bus-stand connecting nearby villages,” said Edwin Jose, a resident.
Speaking to TNIE, Hameed said that many police stations in other districts already house such libraries. “But people, especially the youth, fear entering a police station to borrow books. If it’s on a public place, however, they can use it with ease.”
The library is equipped with 20 seats for readers and a computer system offering access to e-books. The public borrow books using the good old library cards! A CCTV camera has also been installed inside the library, all parts of which are donations, Hameed said. Speaking about the library, Superintendent of Police (SP-Tirunelveli) Manivannan said such an initiative not only improves public-police relationship but also rejuvenates reading habit.
It is also learnt that a few Public Works Department officials, who visited the library during its inauguration, have agreed to build a dedicated room for the facility when the Valliyur bus stand gets reconstructed.
Hameed, who has been serving in the region for the past two years, is no stranger to social service. At the pandemic’s peak, he had won hearts by distributing food to the needy.