How a Delhi Police library is keeping slum children in school and away from crime

The Delhi Police Public Library in R.K. Puram | Photo: Bismee Taskin | ThePrint

Text Size:

New Delhi: Free wifi, computers, books and a reading room — this is how the Delhi Police is trying to reduce the crime rate in R.K. Puram through a public library for slum children.

The Delhi Police Public Library had opened in December 2019 but the Covid-19 pandemic forced it shut after just a few months. The library was then revived again in August 2020 and since then is being actively used by children from nearby slum areas.

Speaking to ThePrint, Station House Officer Rajesh Sharma said the public library aims to provide an environment that is conducive for children from slums to study and thereby prevent them from dropping out of schools.

“This entire area is surrounded by 8-10 JJ (slum) clusters, when I got posted here, I realised that only education can help make this place better. Students living in the slums cannot afford facilities and that often leads to dropping out of schools. School drop outs then mingle with bad companies and get involved in crime. The library is an attempt to reduce the crime rate here,” Sharma said.

“This problem needed a more comprehensive solution and that was to help to learn and study since they belong to economically weaker sections of the society,” he added.

On 28 February, this library also received a certificate of appreciation for innovative education from the Asia Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Goa.

Also read: Delhi cabinet approves formation of separate board for 2,700 schools in the city

From free wifi to books 

The Delhi Police’s library is equipped with free wifi, computers and a vast collection of books. There is also a reading room with air conditioning, which children can use to study.

Painted yellow and white, the public library in located inside the police station’s premises and was opened two years ago by Sharma after he was transferred to R.K. Puram from Lodhi Road.

A xerox copy of an Aadhar card is all that is needed for a membership to the library, which has over 4,000 books including NCERT books for classes 6 to 12, over 120 law books, more than 2,300 guides for competitive exams, as many as 1,900 magazines and several newspapers.

It also has two separate sections for books on women empowerment and literature.

A classroom within the library also offers a crash course for competitive entrance exams like civil services. The digital room, meanwhile, has 10 computers and there is also a separate reading and writing area.

SHO Rajesh Sharma at the Delhi Police Public Library | Photo: Bismee Taskin | ThePrint

Supported by GAIL (India) Limited as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, the police station has also tied up with an NGO — Shikhar Organisation for Social Development — to provide counselling to these students.

While the footfall in the library had reduced during the pandemic, since August last year, several students have started visiting it again for online classes and a peaceful environment to study in.

This initiative by the Delhi Police has also acquired widespread social media recognition in the past few days.

This is the second library to be opened by Delhi Police after Jamia Nagar police station in 2012.

Also read: How IIT, NIT graduates as faculty in colleges in low-income, NE states script success

Away from the chaos, students find peace in police library 

The library stays open Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6pm, and according to assistant librarian Zamreen Farooq, “The capacity here is of 100 students. 60-70 students come to study here daily”.

Rishabh Nautiyal, a graduate student from Delhi University, said that the library is a “boon” for him and many others like him since it provides free wifi for online education.

“As classes went online, I faced a major financial problem, to recharge the internet packs almost every day and often failed to keep track of classes. I come here everyday to study from 11 to 6 pm,” Nautiyal told ThePrint.

Rishabh Nautiyal at the public library in R.K. Puram | Photo: Bismee Taskin | ThePrint

This was a sentiment echoed by almost all students who use the library.

UPSC aspirant Rubi Yadav said that the library provided her with a peaceful environment, which was not available at her home. “I live in a joint family, it gets very difficult to concentrate with all the hustle and bustle.”

Similarly, Sudhir Kumar, who wishes to become an income tax officer and is preparing for the SSC Combined Graduate Level Examination, studies in the library everyday from 11am to 4pm.

“There are infants at home, it is impossible to concentrate while studying, so I come here, this place is away from all the chaos. And the library also has free wifi and a range of books for competitive exams. I can also read the daily newspaper,” Kumar said.

Also read: Covid impacted 247 mn children in India due to closure of 1.5 mn schools, UNICEF study shows

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism