The month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela 2019, the country's largest book fair, is set to commence today at the Bangla Academy premises and the adjacent Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital, with a record number of 499 publishers participating this year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the fair at 3:00pm. She will also unveil a book titled “Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Volume -2)” at the opening ceremony.
With Bangla Academy President Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman in the chair, two foreign guests -- Indian poet Shankha Ghosh and Egyptian Writer and Poet Mohsin Al Arishi -- and State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid will attend the event, among others.
The authorities have allotted stalls of 104 organisations on the academy premises and 395 organisations at the Suhrawardy Udyan. The total number of publishers was 460 in 2018 while the numbers were 401 and 353 in the years 2017 and 2016 respectively, according to Bangla Academy sources.
“This year's fair will be bigger than ever before in terms of participation of the publishing houses,” Dr Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the fair organising committee said at a press conference yesterday.
Jalal said over 300 CCTV cameras had already been installed for security purposes.
Meanwhile, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said foolproof security system would be ensured with CCTV, law enforcers and special traffic control system during the fair.
“Any untoward incident will be strictly prevented and publication of any book that hurts religious and social sentiments will also be curbed” said the DMP boss at a press briefing at Suhrawardy Udyan yesterday.
Lt Col Imranul Hasan, commanding officer of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab-3), said that social media platforms will be monitored to ensure flawless security.
The theme of the fair is “Bijoy: 1952 to 1971, Noboporjay” (Victory: 1952 to 1971, New Phase), commemorating the country's history from the language movement to the 1971 Liberation War, said the Bangla Academy Director General Habibullah Siraji.
Besides popular publications, there will be a little magazine chattar at the academy premises and a children's corner at the Shurawardy Udayan.
Members of the Access to Information (A2I) Programme of the Prime Minister's Office will assist the book lovers by providing necessary information like the previous years, said the organsiers.
The month-long fair will feature unveiling of books, seminars, discussions and cultural events.
To cope up with the rush of visitors, six entrances and two exits have been set up. The fair will remain open from 3:00pm to 9:00pm during Sunday to Thursday while it will remain open from 11:00am to 9:00pm on the weekly holidays. On February 21, the fair will remain open from 8:00am to 8:30pm.
The book fair began informally on the Bangla Academy premises in 1972. In 1978, the academy officially took the responsibility of organising the fair every year. It was named Amar Ekushey Granthamela 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.