The prime minister inaugurated the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela and handed over the Bangla Academy Sahitya Purashkar on Friday
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday lamented her inability to roam around the Ekushey Book Fair freely, saying she is now living some sort of a “captive life.”
"When I was not in power, I used to come at the book fair and roam around freely. But now, I am living some sort of a captive life. I do not have the scope to come here.
“If I want to come here it causes problems for others due to security reasons. Considering people's sufferings, I have to suppress my desire to come here but in reality, my heart lies here always," she said.
Sheikh Hasina was addressing a program marking the inauguration of the month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela-2019 on the Bangla Academy premises and at the adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan in the city, reports UNB.
The theme of this year's book fair is “Bijoy: 1952 to 1971 Ebong Naboporjay.”
The prime minister said the book fair is not a place for just selling and buying books. "We think this book fair is the fair of life for us," she said.
She also gives importance to translating local and international literature books to gain knowledge of world literature and letting others know about ours.
"To know world literature, transliteration must be done urgently," she said.
The prime minister also said although the world is advancing fast and books are now freely available in digital format, the attraction for the printed form of books will never end.
"The joy of turning the pages of a book gives a different feeling. It cannot be compared with anything else."
She, however, underscored the need for establishing a digital library to access any book from any part of the world.
Two foreign guests – Indian poet Shankha Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishi – graced the opening ceremony and spoke as distinguished guests. As Shankha Ghosh was ill and otherwise advised by doctors, his speech was read out by Ramendu Majumder.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid attended the opening ceremony as a special guest while Bangla Academy Director General poet Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech with its President Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman in the chair.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also distributed the Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar-2018 at the opening ceremony.
Four writers and researchers won the award this time. The award winners are Poet Kazi Rosy for poetry, Mohit Kamal for literature, Syed Mohammad Shahed for essay and research and Afsan Chowdhury for research on the Liberation War. The winners received a cheque of Tk2 lakh each at the program.
Later, she went round different stalls at the book fair.
‘Let new generation know the real history’
Laying emphasis that the new generation should know the country’s history, she said the people of the country had earned independence and the right to speak in their mother tongue through huge sacrifices and struggles.
“Our new generation should know the real history of our nation. The history of the Bangladesh’s independence is a unique example of how a nation can reach its destination through sacrifice and bloodshed,” she said.
Focusing on the real history of the Language Movement, she said many people spread distorted information on the history of the movement as well as the Liberation War.
Hasina mentioned that “Unfinished Memoirs of Bangabandhu” and the “Secret Documents of the Intelligence Branch on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” are important sources for the new generation to know the real history.
On the occasion, Hasina unveiled the cover of the second part of the book “Secret Documents of the Intelligence Branch on the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” which details the events of Bangabandhu’s life while he was in jail in 1951 and 1952.
The book is being published in 14 volumes where many unknown facts on Bangabandhu’s struggle for independence are unveiled.
Cultural events and seminars every day
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day from February 2 to 28 followed by cultural events.
Like the previous years, the venue of the fair was extended to nearby Suhrawardy Udyan with numerable changes.
This year, the land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 550,000 square feet, 37,000 more than the previous year. A total of 770 units were allocated to 499 organizations.
The authorities allotted a total of 150 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 104 organizations and 620 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 395 organizations.
Last year, the authorities allotted a total of 719 units - 136 at the Bangla Academy ground to 92 organizations and 583 at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 363 organizations.
Besides, 24 pavilions have been allocated to 24 publishing houses, including the Bangla Academy.
The fair will remain open from 3pm to 9pm (Sunday to Thursday) while it will remain open from 11am to 9pm on weekly holidays. On February 21, the fair will remain open from 8am to 8pm.
The book fair began informally on the Bangla Academy premises in 1972. In 1978, the academy officially took the responsibility of organizing the fair every year. It was named Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela in 1984 and a guideline was formulated in the same year. The fair venue was extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 in a bid to accommodate more publishers and book lovers.