The nation is set to pay its respects to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement with the clock striking 00.01am on Saturday marking 'Amar Ekushey', the Language Martyrs Day and International Mother Language Day.
Walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar with wreaths and flowers singing 'Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano Ekushey February', people will pay their tributes to the heroes of the Language Movement who laied down their lives for achieving the recognition of Bangla as the state language of erstwhile Pakistan.
President Abdul Hamid will pay tributes to the language martyrs by placing wreaths at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar at 00:01 am on Saturday followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Hasina along with her cabinet members, advisers, lawmakers and party leaders will place another wreath on behalf of her party.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia is unlikely to go to the Central Shaheed Minar. However, a BNP delegation will go to the Central Shaheed Minar with party activists to pay homage to the language martyrs on behalf of the party.
Besides, different political parties and their front organisations as well as socio-cultural organisations will pay their homage to the language martyrs placing wreaths all day long.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies have taken all-out security measures in and round the Central Shaheed Minar to ensure smooth observance of the Amar Ekushey.
On February 21, 1952, students and the common people in Dhaka had taken to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government's denial of Bangla as the national language and imposition of Urdu as the sole official language of Pakistan. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings on this day in 1952 when students came out in processions from the Dhaka University campus defying section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan.
The Pakistan government was ultimately compelled to incorporate an article in the constitution on February 29, 1956 that declared 'the state language of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali'. The protest sparked on February 21 in 1952 progressed into the long-drawn struggle that eventually led to the birth of independent Bangladesh in 1971.
President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia have issued separate messages on the occasion.
In his message, the President said the great Language Movement is a historic and significant event in nation's history. "This movement was aimed at establishing the rights of our mother tongue and side by side it was to protect our entity and own culture as a nation, too. Bangali nationalism emanated from the spirit of Language Movement. Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, Amar Ekushey later inspired us to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and sovereign state."
He said Amar Ekushey is now inspiring the people of different languages around the globe to protect and preserve their own languages and cultures transcending the boundary of the country. "Ekushey February, therefore, is no longer a glory for the people of this land alone, rather it has now become as an indomitable source of inspiration for the people of different languages as this day is being observed as International Mother Language Day all over the world. The spirit of the language movement is now embedded in honouring others' languages and cultures being imbued with own language and tradition."
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended her best wishes to the Bangla-speaking people at home and abroad, and the people of all languages and cultures across the world on the occasion of the glorious Martyrs and International Mother Language Day.
She said the greatest Ekushey is the symbol of grief, strength and glory for every Bangali. "Many valiant sons of the soil, including Rafiq, Shafique, Jabbar, Barkat, Shafiuddin and Salam, sacrificed their lives for protecting the dignity of the mother.