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Dhaka Tribune

Golam Mowla, the Language Movement’s forgotten hero

His name and legacy are threatened by obscurity

Update : 19 Feb 2019, 12:53 PM

Golam Mowla’s immense contribution to the Language Movement made the movement a success, yet, the memory of this leader is now threatened by obscurity. 

Every year, when February 21 comes around, many authors write heartfelt, sincere, columns on prominent Language Movement figures. However, very few write about Golam Mowla.

His name and legacy are threatened by those who bathe in the outcome of his sacrifice and contribution but are ignorant of his contributions.

There has been some effort to highlight his involvement in the Language Movement. The bridge on the river Kirtinasha, in Naria, has been named the Dr Golam Mowla Bridge. Dhanmondi Road 1, in Dhaka, has been renamed Dr Golam Mowla Sarak. The Shariatpur government public library was also renamed as the Dr Golam Mowla Public Library.

There are some clubs and organizations named after him as well. Some of them are active, some are not. His life is not remembered in a way that respects his memory.

Golam Mowla was born on October 20, 1920 at Poragachha village in Naria thana of Shariatpur district. His father was Abdul Gafur Dhali and mother was Chhutu Bibi. Golam Mowla received his early education at a primary school at Pachukhar Kandi in Jajira upazila. 

He passed his matriculation examination in 1939 from Naria Biharilal High School, ISc in 1941, and obtained BSc degree in 1943 from Jagannath College in Dhaka. He completed his MSc Part I in Geology at Calcutta University and obtained his MSc degree in 1945 from Dhaka University. Golam Mowla received his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in 1954 from Dhaka Medical College.

He lived as a successful physician, activist, and politician. He became involved with politics in his early years as a student.

Golam Mowla was an active member of the All India Student Federation. In 1952, he was the vice president of Dhaka Medical College Student Union. He was also the vice president of East Pakistan Student League.

Golam Mowla played an active role in the Language Movement of 1952. He was a member of the Sarbadaliya Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad; that was constituted in a meeting at the Dhaka Bar Library held on January 31, 1952 presided over by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. He was then the convener of Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad of Dhaka Medical College. 

Golam Mowla had a substantial role chalking out the program to observe February 21 as Rashtrabhasha Dibash, through a hartal on the day—plus February 23 as Flag Day— at a meeting of the Sarbadaliya Rahstrabhasha Sangram Parishad held on February 6, 1952 at the office of East Bengal Karma-Shibir at 150 Mughaltuli. 

The then-government imposed Section 144 in Dhaka, for one month, from February 20, 1952; and declared all assemblies illegal. After the declaration, the students of Medical College under Golam Mowla decided to violate Section 144 and continue their protest movement. After the police fired on the students’ procession on February 21, most of the student leaders assembled at the Engineering College, at night, to chalk out the techniques of the movement. At this meeting, the Student Movement Committee was reconstituted with Golam Mowla as the convenor.

The first Shaheed Minar was built on the night of February 23, 1952 under  the supervision of Golam Mowla on the premises of the Medical College Hostel; at the historic spot where the police fired on the students.

Upon completing his MBBS degree, Golam Mowla began his medical practice in Madaripur. At this time he joined the Awami Muslim League. He was the president of Madaripur sub-divisional unit of Awami League. Golam Mowla was elected a member of the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly in the by-election on 1956. He was elected a member of the Pakistan National Assembly in 1962. He was the chief whip of the opposition party in the Pakistan National Assembly.

Golam Mowla was a capable and dedicated physician with a humanitarian inclination.

He died on May 29, 1967, drawing a premature end to an extraordinary and honest life. He could not leave behind anything of monetary significance to his wife, three daughters, and one son. He had three life-insurance policies in his name, his family could only collect the money from there and manage their livelihood as best as they could. 

Golam Mowla’s wife and three daughters all passed away. Only his son, Dr Golam Faruk lives. 

He said: “I went into retirement a few years ago. I hope that I will see more recognition of my father’s contributions.

“I also want people to recognize all Language Movement veterans and their contributions.” 

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