Nation pays homage to language martyrs

Special Correspondent

22 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Nation pays homage to language martyrs

The Central Shaheed Minar is adorned with flowers as people paid tribute to the martyred language heroes, marking Amar Ekushey and International Mother Language Day on Sunday. – Reaz Ahmed Sumon

The nation observed Amar Ekushey and International Mother Language Day on Sunday, paying glowing tribute to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement of 1952.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage to the valiant sons of the soil who sacrificed their lives to establish Bangla as state language of then Pakistan.

On behalf of the President and the Prime Minister, President’s military secretary Major General SM Salahuddin Islam and Prime Minister’s military secretary Major General Naquib Ahmed Chowdhury placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital at zero hours.

After placing wreaths, they stood in solemn silence as a mark of respect for the language martyrs.

Usually, the President and the Prime Minister place wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar. But this year they were not present in person due to the ongoing corona pandemic.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on behalf of party President Sheikh Hasina and GM Quader on behalf of Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Rowshan Ershad placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.

Cabinet members, advisers to the Prime Minister, members of parliament, chiefs of three services, diplomats, freedom fighters, and high civil and military officials also placed wreathes on the occasion.

Later, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, DU Teachers’ Association, Sector Commanders Forum, war-wounded freedom fighters, different political parties and socio-cultural organisations paid homage to the langage heroes.

Chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain placed a wreath at the Shaheed Minar in the morning.

People wearing black badges with flowers in their hands thronged Shaheed Minars across the country, singing Ekushey anthem ‘Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushey February….’ 

Street paintings, festoons, banners, buntings and placards with popular inscriptions on the language movement featured the areas adding to the solemnity of the day.

The day was a public holiday.

The national flag was hoisted at half-mast and black flags flew atop government, autonomous and private offices across the country on the occasion.

Different organisations, including Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Institute, National Museum, International Mother Language Institute and Shishu Academy observed the day through various programmes.

The programmes included book fair, discussions, recitation, essay competition and cultural functions.

State-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar and private TV channels aired special programmes round the day, highlighting significance of the day.

Newspapers published special supplements, highlighting the significance of the day.

On February 21, 1952, the Pakistani police opened fire on a peaceful procession in Dhaka and brutally killed many people, mostly students, including Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and Shafiur.

Their demand was to declare Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan.

Since then, the day is being observed as Amar Ekushey or Language Martyrs’ Day.

The day is being observed as International Mother Language Day in 193 countries across the globe following United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) recognition of Ekushey February on November 17 in 1999.

The language movement was a watershed in history as it fortified Bengali nationalism and its spirit ultimately led to the country’s independence in 1971.

Back in 1952, then autocratic Pakistani ruler imposed Urdu, the language of less than 20 percent people, as the only official language of Pakistan.

But, the students and people of East Pakistan rose in revolt against the then Pakistan ruler’s refusal to recognise Bangla, the language of 56 percent people of Pakistan, as one of the state languages.

In the face of strong opposition in 1956, the Pakistani government was compelled to make Bangla, alongside Urdu, state language of Pakistan.

In observance of the day, the ruling Awami League chalked out a two-day programme.

The party will hold a discussion at its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital at 4:00pm today with its President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.