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Dhaka Tribune

Bangabandhu's lifelong battle for Bangla

From 1948 to 1952 Bangabandhu played one of the key roles as a young activist

Update : 21 Feb 2021, 12:57 PM

Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman played a very vital role in the language movement.

His struggle for Bangla language started in 1948, as a young leader Bangabandhu physically took part in various protests demanding Bangla as the state language of Pakistan.

During the language movement, from 1948 to 1952 Bangabandhu played one of the key roles as a young activist.

After the language movement he did not give up his fight for Bangla which resulted in the inclusion of Bangla language in the first constitution of Bangladesh.

If we look at history we can see, young Mujib took admission in the law department of Dhaka University in 1848.

Then he founded The East Pakistan Muslim Students League on 4 January, which raised 10-point demands included, among others, the demand to make Bangla a state language of Pakistan.

Bangabandhu rose in spontaneous protest on 23 February 1948, when Prime Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Nazimuddin declared at the Legislative Assembly: 'The people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language.'

Later on 2 March, The Shongram Parishad was reformed at the joint meeting of Tomoddun Majlish and Muslim Students League held at FazlulHuq Muslim Hall.

This meeting was attended by leaders and activists of various organizations, of whom Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, ShamsulHuq, Oli Ahad, Muhammad Toaha, AbulKashem, Ronesh Das Gupta, Ajit Guha were notable.

The meeting decided to build up a concerted movement against position on Bangla language of National Assembly and Muslim League by forming the All Party Council for Struggle on State Language.

On 11 March, young Mujib was arrested along with some student leaders while they were holding a demonstration in front of the Secretariat building.

“We decided that 11 March would be declared 'Bengali Language Demand Day'. We also decided to spring into action in all the districts on that day. I gave speeches at student meetings in Faridpur,Jessore, Daulatpur, Khulna and Barisal on the subject before arriving in Dhaka three days before,” Bangabandhu wrote in his diaries.

Bangabandhu himself narrated the memories of 11 March in his diary ‘The Unfinished Memories’.

 “Some of us got beaten up and some were arrested and hauled into jeeps. Mr Huq had already been forcibly taken to one of the jeeps. Many students were hurt and arrested. Oli Ahad had also been arrested. Tajuddin, Toaha and a few others had managed to elude the police. Seventy to seventy-five of us were tied up and sent to jail in the evening,” sited from Bangabandhu’s diaries.

Language Veteran Oli Ahad in his book “National Politics 1945-1975” wrote: “In order to take part in the strike, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to Dhaka from Gopalganj on 10 March. During the strike programme of 11 March, Sheikh Mujib was so involved and excited that this strike redefined the course of life”.

From prison Bangabandhu played a vital role in language movement. He used to keep contact with other student leaders from various political parties from jail.  

Veteran political history writer Dr. Mohammad Hannan, wrote, “Sheikh Mujib was in jail during the explosive phase of the Language Movement in 1952. Although he was not physically present during the activities of that time, he used to meet with the activists in jail and give directions,”

In this regard, Language Veteran Gaziul Huq also wrote in his memoirs “Amar Dekha, Amar Lekha”: “After being arrested in the October of 1948, Mr. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was incarcerated at various prisons up to the February of 1952. Hence, naturally, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman could not physically participate in the Language Movement of 1952. But from jail, he maintained communications with the activists and leaders of the movement and advised on various issues”.

Not only in language movement but also Bangabandhu played a key role in observing the first anniversary of 21 February in 1953.

There is a photo at ‘The Unfinished Memories’ which showed Young Mujib along with Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani marching toward Shaheed Minar to observe the language martyr day on 21 February of 1953.

After the language movement Bangabandhu raised voice for Bangla in the legislative assembly also.

Jukto Front was formed in 1954. Bangabandhu then played an important role in contemporary politics and development of Bangla language as a minister of Jukto Front government.

Bangabandhu also played a historic role, by delivering a speech in Bangla at the United Nations on September 25, 1974 will forever be remembered in golden letters.

This was the first successful attempt at establishing the dignity of Bangla language on the international arena so far.

During his time as the president, on March 12, 1975, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave his official order to start using Bangla as the official language.

Bangabandhu helped to include Bangla as the state language in the constitution of 1972. This was the first constitution in the world promulgated in Bangla.

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