The task force will comprise six members – one representative each from the Bangla Academy, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Copyright Office Bangladesh and Bangladesh Police, and two from publishing houses, said Dr Jalal Ahmed, member-secretary of the fair's organising committee.
“The task force will be formed by tomorrow [Saturday] and will soon visit the fair to oversee the book stalls,” he told BSS.
He said other than banned and pirated books, the task force would also monitor whether any reading materials that oppose the spirit of the Liberation War and social values, and hurt religious sentiments, are being sold at the fair.
“No harmful books or things can be allowed for sale as per the policy of the fair. If any stall found to be violating the policy will face legal actions,” Jalal added.
Earlier on January 31, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) announced that they would scrutinise
the books being released at the book fair this year to determine whether any of them carry any “offensive” content that “may hurt religious sentiments” as a part of “security measures.”
However, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said on January 31: “If one's speech or activity attacks others’ religious beliefs and leads to a communal clash, then he or she cannot be considered a freethinker. Our Information and Communication Technology Act does not permit such activities either.”
Also Read- Curtain rises on Ekushey Book Fair amid policing of books
Readers, publishers, civil rights experts and activists alike believe these unprecedented measures are a huge blow to people's fundamental and constitutional right to free speech and expression.
Such policing of books will limit freethinking in the country, which is not acceptable in a democratic country, many of them said.
“What I will write, what I will say is my basic right according to the country’s law, and police cannot exercise control here. It is a clear violation of the citizens' rights,” said Mustafa Jabbar, publisher and noted IT specialist.
Robin Ahsan, a publisher, said: “Instigation and provocation are parts of art and literature in line with positive and progressive argument and logic, and readers will decide which is right and which is wrong, not the police.”
“Before getting the judgement from readers and the courts of the country, how police can announce to take such action is a big question,” he said, adding that writers and publishers were now fearing harassment from police.