The Jhelum district government has decided to renovate the historical Iqbal Library, which was once known as Lala Lajpat Rai Library. An amount of Rs5m will be spent on renovation of the old building, furniture and books of the dysfunctional library.
A renowned figure of Jhelum, Avtar Narain, the father of former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, had established it on May 3, 1936 and named it after Lala Lajpat Rai, a Hindu leader in the freedom movement.
Rai had died in 1928 in Lahore after being tortured during a peaceful protest against the Simon Commission, formed by the British Raj.
Another library Bagh Mohallah at Gurdwara Bai Karan Singh Ahlowalya in the city was renamed as Iqbal Library in the name of Allama Iqbal after the Partition.
In 1960, the local authorities joined both the Iqbal Library and Lala Lajpat Rai Library. Since then the latter had been known as the Iqbal Library.
Nowadays, the building of the Bagh Mohallah library is being utilised as the office of a police wing while its other part (Lala Lajpat Rai Library) is dysfunctional and no book has been provided to it since 1990. The building of the library is in a shambles.
Jhelum Deputy Commissioner Iqbal Hussain Khan on Thursday inspected the building of the library which had not been repaired for a long time.
Earlier, chairing a special meeting at his office, the DC said Rs5m had been approved for the rehabilitation of the Iqbal Library and the roof of its building would be reconstructed.
He directed the executing agency to complete the project within two months after which the library would be opened for public.
Originally published in Dawn, July 29th, 2017