Yesterday I, along with my family, visited the Hyderabad Book Fair held at NTR Stadium. Being the final day of the fair, a large number of people thronged the venue to  browse the books for their favorite picks. I, being a bibliophile, felt very enthusiastic and was moving from one stall to another casting curious glances at the books that were on display.

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The ‘free’ books I got at Hyderabad Book Fair. (Photograph By VRC Reddy)

At one stall some youngsters with flowing beards and skull caps were selling Islamic publications. They stopped me and offered a Quran free of cost. I felt surprised, but nevertheless accepted it as I was getting a book, that too free of cost. I moved ahead and after perusing some more stalls, ran into a missionary proselytizer who was distributing Christian literature. He gave me the Gospel of John and also some leaflets glorifying the Christianity. I accepted all of them and moved forward. After crossing some more stalls, I entered into another stall, where some other bearded and skull-capped youngsters were selling Islamic literature. Some of them were making a futile attempt to convince the visitors about the ‘peaceful’ nature of their religion and they were struggling hard to persuade them that their religion doesn’t have anything to do with the ceaseless explosions that are extinguishing scores of lives all over the world. Some visitors were giving them a patient hearing and some others were arguing with them. I overheard one of the visitors responding by saying “Okay, you keep repeating that your ‘religion of peace’ doesn’t have anything to do with all the violence, but explosions and shootouts in the name of your religion never stop”.

Meanwhile, one of the stall keepers offered me another copy of Quran, that too free of cost. This Koran looked even more elaborate and expensive. They also gave me some leaflets about how well Islam treats its women and what kind of rights and privileges they enjoy in Islam.  I readily accepted them because, as far as books are concerned, I always accept them gleefully. After taking a few more steps, I reached some stalls where Hindu scriptural literature is sold. I was wondering whether they were ready to offer something free. Not at all. They have a price fixed for each and every publication and they are not even ready to offer big discounts.

I just wondered why Hindu organizations are not distributing any literature to the people. Perhaps they don’t have the funds required to do that. No oil money from gulf and no money from corporate patrons. Even their temples are controlled by the government and the revenue is channelized towards the government coffers. Maybe they don’t want to do it or they might have felt that they don’t even need to do it.

While I was exiting the venue of the book fair, some “revolutionary activists” who were selling some books with red colored cover pages, offered to sell their stuff. I, without any second thoughts, declined to buy them as the ideology embedded in those books is outdated, and any expired stuff, as we are all well aware, may prove to be detrimental to our health.

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