Anantnag, March 7: In a novel initiative, the Army has converted a dilapidated bus stand in a village in South Kashmir into a 'street library' to help students of neighbouring areas to prepare for competitive exams and higher studies.
The library which was set up in the last week of February by the 18 Rashtriya Rifles of the Army has become an instant hit among the students of Ranipura, Chittisigpura, Kejriwal and Devipora villages, officials said.
Seeing students of higher classes getting engrossed in books, the younger lot from primary classes surrounded Lt Col Rohit Jha, Commanding officer of the 18 RR, which comes under the Victor Force that looks after South and central Kashmir, and demanded that some storybooks be kept for them too.
A pleasantly surprised Lt Col Jha immediately ordered some comics having a social message and books which can increase their knowledge, officials said.
The 'street library' opens early in the morning and within no time, children are seen flocking to the bus stand and other storybooks which have been donated by 2-Sector Headquarters of the Rashtriya Rifles, a forced carved out of the army for fighting terrorism in the hinterland.
The bus stand located at Devipora-Chittisingpora junction in Anantnag district has now virtually become a hub of knowledge which is often flocked by youngsters appearing for competitive exams and higher studies. The army unit has also tied up with 'Books of India' society which has agreed to supply some books for the cause.
The Army said it is not only about reading, books can also be used to relax the minds of students. In order to help students, they have also kept a 'book jar', from where children pick up a slip of paper and take out a book ranging from realistic fiction to science and historical fiction or romance to fantasy or mystery books.
The 'street library' showcases India-2020 of late President A P J Abdul Kalam and compilation of Khalil Gibran or the world's greatest short stories. The bus stand was burnt down by miscreants in 2016 and a quote of famous American writer Sidney Sheldon was an inspiration for setting up the 'street library'. "Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life."
The Army plans to open more such street libraries in the near future to help the youth achieve the power of knowledge and look out for their better future. The 'street library' has a notice board to announce new arrivals of books besides pasting Quick Response or QR code of national level entrance exams and a guide on how to be a part of the Army.
The officials said that some students have also started demanding some books which the Army tries to procure the market or through some NGO.