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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

72 years on, Bangladesh falters in compiling language movement heroes list

  • Results in a lack of recognition for those who contributed to the movement
  • Their identities have not been adequately highlighted before the generation
  • No one has been able to provide a clear answer in this regard
Update : 21 Feb 2024, 11:20 AM

Bangladesh commemorates on Wednesday the completion of 72 years since the historic Bangla language movement that demanded recognition as a state language. 

However, in this seven-decade period, a complete list of language heroes who participated in the language movement has not been prepared. 

This has resulted in a lack of recognition for those who contributed to the movement, and their identities have not been adequately highlighted before the generation following that of the martyrs.

The language movement was a significant event in Bangladesh's history, and it is essential to acknowledge the contributions of the activists who fought for their mother tongue. 

Unfortunately, no one has been able to provide a clear answer as to why a list of linguists involved in the movement has not been formulated yet.

A writ filed by Advocate Manzil Morshed in the High Court back in 2010 has resurfaced in the media as it sought instructions to prepare a list of language heroes. 

As a result of the writ, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs formed a three-member committee on January 20, 2011, for the preparation of the list. 

The committee worked for a year and published a list that recognized 68 language heroes, including 14 women. The list was gazetted on February 23, 2012. 

However, controversy arose over the inclusion of certain names on the list, causing a stagnation in the preparation process. After that, no significant progress has been made in the last 12 years. 

The High Court had previously directed that committees be formed in all districts of the country, including Dhaka, to contribute to the preparation of the list. 

Despite these directives, a three-member committee set up by the Ministry, comprising language hero Ahmed Rafiq, Rafiqul Islam, and Muntasir Mamun, failed to make any meaningful contributions. 

Furthermore, there has been a lack of progress being in other district committees. 

The committee held only one meeting, which focused on the intricacies of the working method. Since then, work on the list has essentially come to a halt.

Ahmad Rafiq, the convener of the committee, expressed his thoughts to Dhaka Tribune. 

Questioning the possibility of creating an accurate list of language heroes 72 years after the language movement, he said: “Despite the ministry's efforts, the matter remained in a state of chaos. Many individuals from different parts of the country are claiming themselves as language heroes. While there have been efforts to preserve the history of the Liberation War, not much has been done to preserve the history of the language movement. Even if there is a desire to do so now, it may no longer be possible because most of the individuals who actively participated in, organized, or led the language movement have passed away.”

Rafiq also admitted that he cannot remember much about the movement either.

The High Court had issued an eight-point directive in its ruling, which included preparing a list of language activists and constructing a library and a language museum near the central Shaheed Minar. 

However, building the library and language museum next to the Shaheed Minar has been limited to signboards only.

Ahmad Rafiq said: “As far as I know, recently the High Court ordered the National Museum to publish the list of language heroes within two years. I have made a list of 225-230 people so far on my own initiative. But my physical condition is not so good, I can't even see properly. So the list can't be complete.”

Since the court issued the order, five ministers and state ministers have successively taken charge of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The most recent state minister was KM Khalid. 

He said that the ministry had been working towards implementing the High Court's directives. 

However, when asked about the progress made, he suggested the reporter speak with someone who is currently in charge of the ministry. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the current minister at the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

The secretary of the ministry, Khalil Ahmed, declined to discuss the matter over the phone, stating that it is still under process. 

He said: “A committee of language heroes and historians is currently reviewing the matter.”

Additionally, he mentioned that the ministry has followed the instructions of the High Court with regard to the matter.

68 language heroes

Former President Mohammed Zillur Rahman, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Abdul Matin, Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman, Oli Ahad, Roshan Ara Bachchu, Dr. Sharfuddin Ahmed, artist Imdad Hossain, artist Murtaja Baseer, Dr Sufia Ahmed, Dr. Halima Khatun, Ghulam ArieffTipoo, Prof. Rafiqul Islam, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Prof. Anisuzzaman, Prof. Ajoy Roy, Ahmed Rafiq, Burhanuddin Khan Jahangir, Sanjida Khatun, Kamal Lohani, Dr Sayeed Haider, Debpriya Barua (DP Barua), Dr. Farooq Aziz Khan, M Mujibul Haque, Syeduddin Ahmad, Ziad Ali, Sameeruddin Ahmad, Tofazzal Hossain, Khaleda Fancy Khanam, Zahrat Ara Khanam, Bahauddin Chowdhury, artist Aminul Islam, Mosharraf Hossain Akunji, Abdur Razzak, Abul Hossain, Saiful Islam (Pabna), Ranesh Maitra (Pabna), Momtazuddin Ahmed (Rajshahi), Nadera Begum, Pratibha Mutsuddi, Begum Chemon Ara, Abdul Ghafoor, Khodadad Khan, Nurul Haque Bhuiyan, Syed Fazle Ali, Abdul Latif, Motahar Hossain Sufi (Rangpur), Karzon Ali (Gaibandha), Pranesh Samaddar (Dhaka) Dr. Ali Asgar (Dhaka), Shah Tafazzal Hossain Pradhan (Dhaka), Shah Tabibur Rahman Pradhan (Rangpur), AKM Azharuddin (Barisal), Anisul Haque Pyara (Rangpur), Nilufar Ahmad Doli (Rangpur), Roshan Jahan Hossain (Dhaka), Roshan Ara Chowdhury (Dhaka), Dr. Jahanara Begum (Rajshahi), Hasan Imam Tulu (Gaibandha), Shah Abdur Razzak (Rangpur), Dr. M Islam (Dhaka), Chowdhury Harunur Rashid (Chittagong), AKM Rafiqullah Chowdhury (Chittagong), Ekramul Haque (Rajshahi), Professor Abul Kasem, Shahed Ali, Mumtaz Begum (Narayanganj).

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