Iconic Daryaganj Book Market Shut Down But What About the Hawkers?

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

I used to visit the Daryaganj’s Sunday book market at Netaji Subhash Marg often. Fondly known as the Kitab Bazaar, it was a haven for book lovers; all kinds of books available at an affordable price. It was my go-to place. Located in the heart of Dilli-6, the book market was more than just a regular market. It was also a meeting point for students who used to come to the market in search of a book or two, every Sunday. After all the scouting, some garam-garam kebab in the backdrop of Jama Masjid didn’t hurt.

But it has all changed now.

On 3 July, the Delhi High Court ordered the North Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to shut down the 50-year-old bazaar, declaring the area a no-hawking zone.

I visited the Daryaganj book market after a month, along with a friend, and we didn’t like what we saw.

There were no books laid out on the pavements. The bazaar was not swamped by book lovers. It was rather dull. Though bookshops continue to operate, but the pavement book market — once the essence of Daryaganj — no longer exists.

We met two students who told us that the book market made available educational study material at affordable rates, for years. Now, there’s no bargain, no discount.

We met Subhash Chand Aggarwal, former President of the Daryaganj Patri Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association, to talk about the change. While looking at all the books in his storage, Aggarwal said,

"“Only I know how I collected all these books. Now I am worried that if the government doesn’t allow the Sunday book market to be set up, what will I do of all these books around me? How will I pay the debts I owe to people?”"

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This was one of the main concerns of many booksellers in the area. But this is not the first time the book bazaar is closed down. It also happened early last year in 2018.

Asarfi Lal Verma, Vice President, Sunday Book Bazaar Patri Welfare Association said,

"“Last year, our market got shut because of 26 January. At that time we’d met the DC of our area, Ruchika Katyal ji for a solution. She asked us to reduce our strength by 50 sellers and it was given to us in writing that our market from Golcha to Delite cinema can be run without any problem.”"

Vendors are now asking for their rights. Sumeet Verma, shopkeeper said, “This market is a natural market and the same is mentioned in the 2004 MCD policy of street vendors stating that this market is a 'natural market'. The concept of natural market is that nobody has formally set it up and this has grown over a period.”

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The market has been running since 1964 and it’s been a home to many.

"“This market is like a mother to us and we can’t leave this place at any cost. It is a historical market where poor or rich children can easily visit, women can easily visit. We have all the facilities here and that’s why we don’t want to leave this place.”" - Subhash Chand Aggarwal, Former President, Daryaganj Patri Sunday Book Bazaar Welfare Association

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