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People behind the huge success of Malegaon Urdu Kitab Mela
Wednesday January 15, 2014 11:42 AM, Staff Reporter

On November 18, 2013, when National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) Research Officer Khurram Shahnawaz visited Malegaon to assess if the NCPUL can organise an All India Urdu Book Fair (Kul Hind Urdu Kitab Mela) in Malegaon, he went dumb when the Deputy Mayor of Malegaon told him that this is a city where people don't even buy a newspaper worth Re.1. Arif Iqbal of Urdu Book Review, the representative of publishers, who was in Khurram's team, was also clueless on how to convince others to come to Malegaon if this is the case.

Malegaon Urdu Kitab Mela
[Noted journalist Yavar Abbas (in the middle) visited the Urdu Kitab Mela on January 05, 2014. Also seen are Shamsuddin Agha, Akhtar Rangoonwala and the organisers of the gala event.]

However, when the NCPUL, despite all apprehensions, finally decided to hold the Urdu Kitab Mela in Malegaon, the Malegaonians proved all its detractors wrong. Since January 03, when Union Minister K Rahman Khan inaugurated the ten-day gala event till its last day on January 12, almost everyone and from all sections of the society not only visited the Kitab Mela at least once but also purchased books, and they purchased all kinds of books. Be it the books on Urdu literature, religion, history, education, poetry and politics or on recipes and children literature all titles were in demand with equal interest.

Among the buyers too were people of different class and variety. Men, women and students of all ages and genders and also a huge majority of children were seen on all ten days rushing for books as if there is going to be a 'ban on book purchase' henceforth. And when finally the Urdu Kitab Mela came to an end at around 11:00 pm on January 12, the Malegaonians had bought books worth Rs.87,48,757/- rupees – a record sale by any of the NCPUL's last 13 book fairs including the ones in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Lucknow.

The publishers who were earlier reluctant were enthralled by the response. They ran out of stock on the third day itself and had to call for fresh stock. "This is something very rare. Normally we sell half of the stock and take back the remaining half in the end. The response by the Malegaonians is unbelievable. We are going from here with good business and pleasant memories, and to come back once again", Kausar Usman of Pharos Media said.

Besides pleasant memories, the publishers also left with a horde of interesting stories to share with the world. Kausar recalled a young boy came to his stall and asked for a copy of 'Who Killed Karkare?' He told him that the book was not of his interest and he should go to the adjoining stall which had plenty on children literature. The boy's answer on Kausar's suggestion was: "I want to gift this book to my father."

Shehzad Alam of Maktana Al Hasnat recalled a small girl came to his stall, held a book in her hand and asked its price. "After learning the price, she dropped the book and hesitantly walked towards the exit. Helplessness written all over her face was enough to show she did not have enough money. Suddenly, an unknown man, who was watching the conversation, came to her rescue and told me to provide her whichever book she wants", he said.

Usman Ghani of ISCUS Library also had a similar experience. He said he saw a man consoling a small boy who standing in a side was profusely crying. Later enquiry showed that the boy had lost the carry-bag containing the books he had purchased with the money he had saved from his pocket money in the last 30 day. The man who was unknown to the little chap, Mohammad Raza recalled, took him back to the bookstalls and paid the bill for the books the boy bought again.

Also interesting is the story of Khalil Ahmed Fareedi, a local writer known as Ibn-e-Shafi. He has bought books worth more than 45,000/-, the highest by any individual in ten days of Malegaon Urdu Kitab Mela. He said he sold out some of his belongings, used the savings of his children and also borrowed money from friends to buy books.

Besides these 'angels' the local organisations and institutions too responded very positively to the call given by the organisers. Top among them are Jamia Ishat-ul-Uloom of Akkalkuwa and Jamia Mohammadia Mansoora of Malegaon. They bought books worth Rs.04,65,500/- and Rs.03,78,900/- respectively.

Dr Saeed Farani, a local surgeon, who too bought books worth more than thirty thousands, has beautifully summed up the success of Malegaon's Urdu Kitab Mela. He said if the NCPUL did lot of 'Geography' before coming to Malegaon, the people of Malegaon responded by creating a 'History'.

Apart from creating history, the city in itself has gained immensely from the ten-day event. The city is known in the world for riots and terror attacks, and it had paid a lot for these tags. The city always had lot of potential. The huge success of the Urdu Kitab Mela has only reinforced this fact.

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