The nation on Tuesday (Feb 21) recalled the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day 71 years back with a fresh call for recognising Bangla as one of the UN official languages, marking the Shaheed Dibos and International Mother Language Day. Thousands of people clad in black and white dresses especially traditional sharees and panjabees, who thronged the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka since midnight to pay their glowing tributes to the 1952 language martyrs, also demanded for launching the Bangla at everywhere, local media reported.
President Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid their tributes to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka at one minute past zero hours while the immortal song on Amar Ekushey – "Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February" – was being played on the loudspeaker. They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes. Later, on behalf of Bangladesh Awami League, it’s President Sheikh Hasina paid homage to the language martyrs placing a wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
Deputy Leader of the House Begum Matia Chowdhury, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Awami League presidium members Dr Abdur Razzaque, Shajahan Khan, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya Bir Bikram, Quamrul Islam, AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Abdur Rahman and Dr Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, joint general secretaries Dr Hasan Mahmud (also the Information and Broadcasting Minister), Mahbubul Alam Hanif, AFM Bahauddin Nasim and Dr Dipu Moni, organizing secretaries Ahmed Hossain, BM Muzammel Haque, Afzal Hossain and Sujit Roy Nandi, office secretary Biplab Barua, publicity secretary Dr Abdus Sobhan Golap and cultural affairs secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil were, among others, present on the occasion. Then, Jatiyo Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.
On behalf of Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Begum Rowshan Ershad, Jatiyo Party chairman GM Quader placed a wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar.
Dhaka South City mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and chiefs of three services also placed wreaths at the Shaheed Minar. Later, Inspector General of Police, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor, chiefs of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and BGB, and foreign ambassadors to Bangladesh paid tributes to the language martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.
Different political parties and socio-cultural organisations, Sector Commanders Forum, war-wounded freedom fighters of the Liberation War, attorney general, DU teachers' Association, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, the Home Ministry and Fire service and Civil Defence also paid homage to the language martyrs.
Among the political parties and student organizations, Workers Party, JASOD, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal, BNP, Samyabadi Dal, Gono Forum, Dhaka city south and north units of Awami League, Awami Jubo League, Swechchhasebak League, Mahila Awami League, Jubo Mahila League, Gonotantri Party, Bangladesh Chhatra League, Chhatra Union, Chhatra Front and Chhatra Federation paid homage to the language martyrs.
Besides, among the social, professional and cultural organizations and institutions, Bangla Academy, Dhaka Reporters' Unity, Shilpakala Academy, Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshthi, Kendriyo Khelaghar Asar, Bangabandhu Parishad, Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote, Bangabandhu Gobeshona Parishad, Amra Muktijoddhar Santan, DU Senate members and Dhaka University Journalists' Association paid tributes to the language heroes.
To mark the day, ruling Awami League kept the national and party flags half-mast and hoisted black flags atop at the Awami League's central office at Bangabandhu Avenue and Bangabandhu Bhaban and other unit offices of the party across the country at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Later, the party leaders and activists wore black badges at 7 a.m. while the ruling party brought out a Provat Feri (morning procession), led by Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, in the city.
At first, the procession joined by Awami League leaders and activists went to Azimpur Graveyard and paid glowing tributes to the language heroes, including Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabber and Shafiur, by a wreath.
Later, the procession ended at the Central Shaheed Minar by placing another wreath at the altar of the Shaheed Minar.
Marking the day, the highest security measures were enforced in and around the Central Shaheed Minar and Dhaka University campus to avoid any unwanted situation. Key city points and crossings and intersections were decorated with festoons with inscriptions of Bangla letters.
Earlier, on Monday, President Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages paying rich tributes to martyrs of the Language Movement.
The day is also being observed around the world as UNESCO recognised the International Mother Language Day on Nov 17, 1999. Bangladeshi missions abroad are also observing the day in a befitting manner.
On the day, the national flag is kept at half-mast in all educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices and private buildings across the country.
Besides, offering Fateha, Quran Khawani, Milad Mahfil and special munajat were offered at Azimpur graveyard in the capital for the martyrs of the Language Movement while special prayers were arranged at all places of worship across the country seeking eternal peace of language martyrs.
To mark the day, Islamic Foundation organized Quran Khawani, discussion, doa and special prayers at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque here today, seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of martyrs.
In line with the national programmes, the day was also observed at all educational institutions, city corporations, pourasabhas, the district and upazila administrations and Bangladesh missions abroad.
The day was a public holiday.
Marking the day, the Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas of the Dhaka University campus were decorated with street paintings and graffiti with Bangla alphabets and selected verses of eminent poets about the mother languages on the walls.
Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and television channels aired special programmes while national dailies published special supplements, highlighting the significance of the day.
Besides, children, students, the elderly people and the children with special needs were allowed to visit the National Museum and its affiliated branch museums and all the archeological sites and museums under the Department of Archaeology at free of cost.
On Feb 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 recognize 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 the Pakistan government on February 29, 1956 was compelled to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan besides Urdu.
The decision, however, could not stop the movement against repression and misrule of the then Pakistani government and subsequently led to the War of Intendance and ultimately the emergence of independent Bangladesh.