Nation recalls sacrifice of Language Martyrs
The nation on Friday observed the International Mother Language Day across the country to remember those who laid down their lives to establish the rights of Bengalis to speak in their mother tongue.
With Bangladesh, 193 countries across the world also observed the day, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on November 17 in 1999, declared February 21 as the International Mother Language Day.
The day remembered the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes who were killed on the day by the Pakistani colonial rulers.
On this day 68 years back, the language heroes sacrificed their lives bringing procession violating the Section 144 to realize the status of Bangla as a state language of the-then Pakistan.
Thousands of people thronged the Central Shaheed Minar at midnight to pay their glowing tributes to the 1952 language martyrs by placing wreaths at the altar of the monument.
Beginning from 12:00am on Friday, people placed wreaths at the altar of Shaheed Minar in memory of the language martyrs till sunset humming the tune of "'Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushey February Ami Ki Bhulitey Pari…'.
The bare-footed people clad in black and white and holding flowers thronged Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka University and elsewhere across the country to pay tribute to Language Movement martyrs marking the Amar Ekushey February.
The day's event started with placing floral wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar by President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, opposition leader of the parliament Raushan Ershad, Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader and other cabinet members and leaders of different political and social organizations amid tight security while the clock struck one minute-past zero hour.
Ministers, advisers to the prime minister, parliament members, chiefs of three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, freedom fighters, and high civil and military officials, dignitaries and hundreds of social, cultural, political and professional bodies followed suit.
Flanked by cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Bangladesh Awami League later placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
Later, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, Dhaka University Teachers' Association, Sector Commanders Forum, war-wounded freedom fighters of the 1971 Liberation War, different political parties and socio-cultural organisations paid their homage.
BNP led by its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haque Inu, Workers' Party President Rashed Khan Menon, Samyabadi Dal General Secretary Dileep Borua and leaders of different political and social organizations also placed their tributes to the language heroes.
They stood in solemn silence there for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.
Areas around the monument and Dhaka University (DU) wore a festive look with murals, graffiti and street paintings comprising Bangla alphabets and verses on mother languages.
Afterwards, a sea of people started paying tributes to the valiant sons of the soil imbued with the spirit of patriotism. With daybreak, the crowd grew bigger.
Many children were also seen with their parents, carrying flowers in their hands.
"I have heard the tale of the Language Movement from my father many times. That is why I have come here," said Tania Aktar, a class IV student.
Marking the day, the national flag was hoisted at half-mast in all educational institutions and government, semi-government and autonomous offices to show respect to the language martyrs.
Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and television channels aired special programmes on the occasion. National dailies published special supplements marking the day.
The Dhaka University had taken a series of programmes to observe the Amar Ekushey. The programmes include placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar, bringing out Provat Feri (Dawn March) and offering Fateha at Azimpur Graveyard.
The university arranged special prayers for the martyrs at all the mosques of the campus, including its Central Mosque Masjidul Jamia after Zohr prayer.
Islamic Foundation held Quran Khwani, doa and Milad Mahfil at Azimpur graveyard mosque.
Later, another Quran Khwani with Doa and Milad Mahfil were held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.
The day was also observed across the globe with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) on November 17, 1999 proclaiming February 21 as International Mother Language Day.
Talking to The Daily Observer, DU student Sohan Islam, said, "As many children are studying in English medium schools, they pronounce Bangla sentences in English style. This should be stopped."
"Our sacrifice for the mother language not only created a unique example in the world history it was also a tremendous effort to uphold the Bengali political and cultural identity," he added.
On February 21 in 1952, students and people from all walks of life under the All-Party Students Action Committee took to the streets in Dhaka to protest the then Pakistan government's refusal to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafique, Shafique, Jabbar and some others embraced martyrdom when police opened fire on the procession in front of the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).
The movement for Bangla, however, did not stop and Pakistan government on February 29, 1956 was compelled to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan besides Urdu.
However, Ekushey did not end there; it rather planted the seed of freedom in the hearts of Bangalees and 19 years later, an independent country named Bangladesh was born in 1971.