Srinagar- Iconic book store and cafe on Nehru Park which was a must visit for high end tourists and book lovers and which had generated rave reviews the world over is shut. Reason, authorities refused to extend its lease.
Owned by prestigious Gulshan Books the bookstore housing nearly eighty thousand titles on a variety of subjects on and about Kashmir and Sufism was a favourite place for writers, students and all those who wanted a little space away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The property belonging to Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Development Corporation (JKTDC) was rented to Gulshan Books for a period of five years. Later, the government extended the contract for a period of one year.
The government property was rented to Gulshan Books from 2016 to 2020 and was extended for the year 2021.
“We had again applied for the extension but we were told to close the shop”, said Sheikh Ajaz Ahmad, the owner of Gulshan Books.
“The Authorities cited no reason for not giving the extension” he added.
Aijaz had approached the government with the idea of opening a bookshop at Nehru Park on Dal Lake in 2016.The government back then had readily agreed.
Gulshan Books consisted of two sections. One consisted of a coffee shop and a library and the other would serve as a sales centre.
“The response was good; the youth and tourists would throng the place. The shop would remain open even during shutdowns”, Aijaz said.
“All prominent persons would visit the place and we provided free Internet facility to students and readers”.
Sarmad Hafeez Commissioner Secretary JKTDC said that there is no provision for extension.
“When a government property is given on rent for a limited period then the person has to vacate”.
The property will be tendered very soon in a transparent manner.
“Nothing can be endlessly given to someone”
On a question to why was the extension given to the bidder he said I am not aware about it.
JKTDC is a commercial organization and whoever gets the best bid, he can get the property.
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