The nation on Wednesday paid glowing tributes to the martyrs of the historic 1952 Language Movement, marking “Amar Ekushey” and observing the Language Martyrs' Day and International Mother Language Day.
The Language Movement, a significant event in the nation's history, was aimed at establishing the right of the mother tongue as well as protecting self-entity, culture and heritage.
People from all strata of life paid deep respect to the heroes of the Language Movement for their supreme sacrifice in making Bangla the state language of erstwhile Pakistan, walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka and other Shaheed Minars across the country with wreaths and flowers, reports UNB.
President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying the homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at one minute past midnight.
Both of them proceeded to the Shaheed Minar’s altar together in slow pace as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey – “Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February” - was playing.
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President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina place floral wreaths at the altar of Central Shaheed Minar in tribute to the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement in the wee hours of Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
The president was the first to lay the wreath. He was followed by the prime minister. They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the martyrs.
Ministers, the prime minister’s advisers, parliament members, the chiefs of the three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Flanked by Cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Hasina, also the Awami League chief, later placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
Afterwards, Speaker of the parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Deputy Speaker Fazley Rabbi Mia and Leader of the Opposition in parliament Raushon Ershad, along with Jatiya Party MPs, also paid homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the Shaheed Minar in the wee hours.
Dhaka University (DU) Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, Dhaka University Teachers' Association, Sector Commanders Forum, war-wounded freedom fighters of the 1971 Liberation War, different political parties and socio-cultural organisations followed suit to pay their respects.
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Women, wearing black sarees and carrying flowers, among thousands who came to the Central Shaheed Minar to pay tribute to the Language Movement martyrs on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
A group of Indian journalists from Kolkata and New Delhi, who are participating in a three-day Bangladesh-India media dialogue in Dhaka coinciding with the International Mother Language Day, also paid tribute, reports BSS.
Later on, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public.
BNP central leaders, led by Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, went to the Shaheed Minar around 11:30am and placed wreaths at the altar.
Different political parties, their affiliate organizations, as well as socio-cultural organisations also paid homage to the martyrs throughout the day through various programs.
On February 21, 1952, students and ordinary people in Dhaka took to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government's denial of Bangla as the national language and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafique, Jabbar, Shafique and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firing on this day in 1952, when students came out in a procession from the Dhaka University campus breaching Section 144, to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language.
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Students and members of various educational institutions and organizations waited in queue for hours for their turn to pay respects to the Language Movement martyrs at the Central Shaheed Minar in the early hours of Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, Amar Ekushey inspired and encouraged the nation to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and struggle for freedom and the Liberation War of 1971.
Through the blood-strewn path of the Language Movement, the nation got recognition for Bangla, its mother tongue, and attained its long-cherished independence under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971.
Every year, February 21 is observed across the world as the International Mother Language Day, declared by the Unesco on November 17, 1999.
Programs all around
The day was a public holiday. To pay respect to Language Movement martyrs, the national flag was hoisted at half-mast at all educational institutions and government, semi-government and autonomous offices.
Quran Khwani, Milad Mahfil and special prayers was arranged at Dhaka’s Azimpur Graveyard and Baitul Mukarram National Mosque for the martyrs.
As in previous years, the Dhaka University authorities organized programs at the Central Shaheed Minar in coordination with other relevant agencies.
President Hamid and Prime Minister Hasina gave separate messages on the occasion of the day.
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The altar of the Central Shaheed Minar decorated with flowers from the hundreds of thousands of people who paid respect to the Languagae Movement martyrs on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
In line with the national programs, the day was observed by all educational institutions, city corporations, municipalities, the district and upazila administrations and Bangladesh missions abroad.
Different organisations and institutions, including Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Institute, Jatiya Grantha Kendra, Islamic Foundation, National Museum, International Mother Language Institute and Shishu Academy, observed the day through various programs.
The programs included book fair, discussions, recitation, essay competition and cultural functions.
To mark the day, the Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas on DU campus were decorated with paintings and graffiti with Bangla alphabets and selected verses of eminent poets about the mother language on the walls.
Tight security measures were enforced in and around the Shaheed Minar to avoid any unwanted situation.
Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and other private radio stations and television channels aired special programs on the occasion. National dailies also published special supplements marking the day.
Different roads and important city points were also decorated with festoons inscribed with Bangla alphabets.