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Int'l Mother Language Day observed

Int'l Mother Language Day observed

The 'Shaheed Dibash' (Martyrs Day) and the International Mother Language Day was observed on Wednesday (Feb 21) with due respect across the country, paying glowing tributes to the language martyrs. People from all walks of life paid homage to the memories of the language movement heroes, the valiant sons of this soil who made supreme sacrifice to establish the rights of the mother tongue, Bangla, in 1952. Thousands of people clad in black and white dresses especially traditional sharees and panjabees, who thronged the Central Shaheed Minar here since midnight to pay their glowing tributes to the 1952 language martyrs, also demanded for launching the Bangla at everywhere.

The day was also observed around the world as the UNESCO recognised the 21st February (Ekushey February) as the International Mother Language Day on Nov 17, 1999.

This year's theme of the day is – "Multilingual education: a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning".

President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka at one minute past zero hour, while the immortal song Amar Ekushey – "Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February" – was played on the loudspeaker. They also stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.

Later, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of the Bangladesh Awami League, along with senior party leaders paid homage to the language martyrs placing a wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of her party.

Afterwards, Jatiyo Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan and Deputy Speaker Md Shamsul Haque Tuku placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar. Dhaka South City Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and Dhaka North City Mayor Aitiqul Islam also placed wreaths there.

Later, chiefs of the three services, Inspector General of Police, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor, chiefs of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and BGB, and foreign ambassadors to Bangladesh paid tributes to the language martyrs by placing wreaths.

Several 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 organisations, Workers Party, JASOD, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal, Samyabadi Dal, Gono Forum, Dhaka city south and north units of Awami League, Awami Jubo League, Swechchhasebak League, Mahila Awami League, Jubo Mahila League, Bangladesh Chhatra League, Chhatra Union, Chhatra Front and Chhatra Federation paid homage to the language martyrs.

Besides, among the social, professional and cultural organisations 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, Dhaka University Teachers Association, DU Senate members and Dhaka University Journalists' Association paid tributes to the language heroes.

To mark the day, ruling Bangladesh Awami League kept the national and party flags half-mast and hoisted black flags atop the Awami League's central office at Bangabandhu Avenue and Bangabandhu Bhaban and other unit offices of the party across the country. Later, the party leaders and activists wore black badges in the morning 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 went to Azimpur Graveyard and paid glowing tributes to the language heroes, including Abul Barkat, Abdul Jabber and Shafiur, by placing wreath on the graves of language martyrs.

Awami League Joint General Secretary and Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, AL Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Organising Secretaries BM Mozammel Haque, Advocate Afzal Hossain and Sujit Roy Nandi, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Awami League Cultural Affairs Secretary Asim Kumar Ukil, Social Welfare Affairs Secretary Aminul Islam Amin, Office Secretary Barrister Biplab Barua, Finance and Planning Affairs Secretary Wasika Ayesha Khan, Agriculture and Cooperatives Affairs Secretary Faridun Nahar Laili, Education and Human Resources Affairs Secretary Shamsunnahar Chapa, Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Md Abdus Sabur, Deputy Publicity Secretary Syed Abdul Awal Shamim, Deputy Office Secretary Sayem Khan and Central Committee Members Sahabuddin Farazi, Nirmal Chatterjee and Parveen Jaman Kalpana were present, among others.

Besides, Awami League leaders and workers paid tributes to the language heroes by placing wreaths at Central Shaheed Minar in the capital.

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 Tuesday, President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages paying rich tributes to martyrs of the Language Movement.

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, Fateha, Quran Khawani, Milad Mahfil and special munazat were offered at Azimpur graveyard seeking eternal peace of the language martyrs.

To mark the day, Islamic Foundation organised Quran Khawani, discussion, doa and special prayers at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque on Wednesday, seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of the martyrs. Special prayers were arranged at all places of worship across the country as well.

In line with the national programmes, the day was also observed at all educational institutions, city corporations, municipalities, district and upazila administrations and Bangladesh missions abroad.

The day is 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 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 the Pakistan government on Feb 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 this movement led to the War of Liberation and ultimately the emergence of independent Bangladesh.