Bangladesh pays homage to language martyrs

People place wreaths at Central Shaheed Minar Tuesday paying rich tribute to language martyrs. Photo: The Daily Star

THE nation paid glowing tribute on Tuesday to the Language Movement martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the mother tongue in 1952.

Thousands of barefoot people from all walks of life thronged to memorials built across the country breaking the silence of the night.

President Zillur Rahman led the nation in paying tributes to the Language Movement martyrs by placing wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar at a minute past zero hours.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina later turned up there as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey ‘Amar Bhayer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February‘ was being played.

Both the president and the PM stood in solemn silence for some time in respect to the memory of the language heroes.

Later, Hasina, along with her cabinet members, advisers and party lawmakers placed another wreath on behalf of the ruling Awami League. Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali placed wreaths on behalf of the Speaker. The chief whip was with him.

Opposition leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia also placed wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar paying homage to the Language Movement martyrs.

Khaleda along with her party’s senior leaders placed the wreaths as the leader of the opposition in the parliament and the BNP chief.

The chiefs of the three services, the attorney general, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of the UN organisations, and Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique also placed wreaths.

Besides, different political parties and their front organisations and various socio-cultural organisations also placed wreaths at the Shaheed Minar paying their homage to the language martyrs.

Stringent security measures were taken in and around the Central Shaheed Minar on the occasion.

On this day in 1952, students and people from all strata of society 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, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil sacrificed their lives on this day to establish Bangla as one of the state languages of the then Pakistan.

The day has since been observed as the Language Martyrs Day, which the Unesco later declared as the International Mother Language Day.

The Pakistan government was ultimately compelled to include an article in the country’s constitution on February 29, 1956 that declared, “The state languages of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali.”

The Language Movement is indeed the most important turning point in the history of Bangalees as its spirit led to the independence of Bangladesh.

On November 17, 1999, the Unesco declared February 21 as the International Mother Language Day. Countries across the globe have been observing the day since then to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education and raise awareness of cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia in their separate messages on the occasion of Amar Ekushey, International Mother Language Day, felicitated the Bangla-speaking people and others around the world.

The Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas have had a facelift on the occasion, and roads and medians have been festooned with Bangla alphabets and the national flag.

The day is a public holiday. The national flag will be hoisted at half-mast atop all government, autonomous and private buildings.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and satellite TV channels are airing special programmes.


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