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Language Martyrs' Day observed in sombre manner

  • Published at 12:05 am February 22nd, 2020
WEB_Feb 21
A little girl carries a miniature Central Shaheed Minar, the monument built in memory of the martyrs of Language Movement, to place it at the altar of its real-life version at Dhaka University on Friday, February 21, 2020 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

On February 21, 1952, students and common people in Dhaka took to the streets to 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

Once the clock struck 12 at midnight yesterday, the whole of Bangladesh came forth to pay their utmost respects to the 1952 Language Movement martyrs, marking Amar Ekushey and International Mother Language Day.

Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life gathered at the capital's Central Shaheed Minar and across the country carrying wreaths and flowers to remember the valiant souls who gave their lives in defence of the Bangla language.

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 the nation’s culture and heritage.

On February 21, 1952, students and common people in Dhaka took to the streets to 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, Rafiq, Jabbar, and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings 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 of the then Pakistan.

Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Down the years, Amar Ekushey was to inspire the nation to stand up for the rights of the Bangalis, leading eventually to the liberation of Bangladesh through a sustained War of Liberation in 1971.

The Language Movement achieved the recognition of Bangla as its mother tongue and moved ahead to attain freedom under the charismatic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The theme of International Mother Language Day 2020 is "Languages without borders." The theme focuses on cross-border languages and aims at preserving indigenous heritage.

The day was observed across the world against the background of Unesco recognising February 21 as International Mother Language Day on November 17, 1999.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs of 1952 by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at one minute past midnight on Friday, reports UNB.

The president and the premier proceeded to the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar together slowly to the accompaniment of the immortal song on Amar Ekushey — "Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February".

President Abdul Hamid was the first to lay a wreath, followed by the prime minister.

Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The head of state and the head of government then stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the language heroes.

Ministers, the prime minister’s advisers, lawmakers, the chiefs of the three services, bureaucrats, and diplomats were present on the occasion.

Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury also paid her tributes to the martyrs by placing a wreath.

Sheikh Hasina paid her tribute a second time as the president of the ruling Awami League.

Different political parties, including the BNP, and a number of social, educational and cultural organizations also paid their profound respect to the brave sons of the soil.

Our correspondents from Chittagong, Narayanganj, Brahmanbaria, Habiganj, Gopalganj, Lalmonirhat, Madaripur, Manikganj, Naogaon, Narail, Noakhali, Pabna, Pirojpur, Satkhira, Nilphamari, Hili, Bhola, Rajshahi, Tangail, Bogra, and Barisal also reported on events, programs and seminars commemorating February 21. 

A number of people, from both Bangladesh and India, gathered at no-man’s land on the Bangladesh-India border in Benapole, Jessore, on Friday to observe and pay homage to the Language Movement martyrs.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson paid his tributes through a video on the British High Commission Facebook page on Friday.

In India, the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi paid tributes to the language martyrs. In Kolkata, a group of foreign students at Jadavpur University, led by Bangladeshi students, also paid solemn tributes to the language heroes of 1952. 

The Bangladesh Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and the Bangladesh High Commission in Singapore also organised events to mark the historic day.