The traffic police have stopped vendors from selling books in Saddar, bringing a 50 year old book bazaar that took over the area’s pavements every Sunday to an end.
Vendors have been coming to Bank Road in Saddar every Sunday, where they arrange stalls on the sides of the roads and sell books, magazines and textbooks.
The books available ranged from subjects such as law, engineering, literature and religious books to gardening and housekeeping magazines. A landa bazaar was also organised on Bank Road and Haider Road every Sunday.
The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) collected Rs300 per stall from the vendors for a day. Every Sunday, traders in Saddar would close their shops and commercial buildings for the weekly holiday and the book stalls would take up temporary residence in front of their plazas.
However, the traffic police have now stopped the vendors from putting up stalls on the pavements and sides of the roads, as they can get in the way of traffic.
RCB spokesperson Qaiser Mehmood told Dawn the bazaar was closed by the traffic police, and not the board. “We allowed the vendors to sell books, and charged them a fee for a day for the last 50 years,” he said.
City Traffic Officer (CTO) Yousaf Shahid told Dawn traffic congestion forced the police to close down the bazaar. He said the second hand market was what attracted most people to the area, and what the traffic police wanted to close down, but the vendors argued that other markets should be closed too.
“Therefore, we asked all the stallholders not to put up their stalls on the pavements and roadsides from Jan 1,” Mr Shahid said.
He added that traffic has increased in the cantonment areas over the years, and Saddar lacks adequate parking space for visitors, with the landa bazaar and book bazaar exacerbating the problem.
But book lovers who came to the area on Sunday responded to the move with resentment, saying that the books were not only cheaper at the stalls but the book market was a special feature on Sundays in Saddar.
“I came to buy books, but I was shocked to see the book bazaar had ended. The police and civic body have deprived the people of a [place] to get cheaper books,” Mohammad Akhtar, a retired government employee, said.
He said bookstores are expensive and are no prominent public libraries in the area, so people have no choice but to purchase cheaper, second hand books.
Fouzia Ahmed said she visits Saddar every weekend to buy textbooks and storybooks for her children and second hand clothes from the landa bazaar.
“My husband loved to visit the book bazaar and search through the books, but there is no charm in Saddar on Sundays anymore,” she said.
Published in Dawn January 2nd, 2017