Nation pays tribute to language movement heroes

Staff Correspondent

April 18th, 2024 | 04:46:20 PM

Streams of barefooted people from all walks of life began filing past martyrs’ memorial premises across the country after placing flowers at the altars as the clock tick past Tuesday midnight with the nation paying tributes to the Language Movement heroes.

People from all walks of life and ages began to gather at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital and other memorials, mostly at educational institutions and important locations, across the country since late Tuesday evening.

They stood in queues to pay respect to the language heroes, known and unknown and unsung, who made supreme sacrifice in 1952 out of love for mother tongue.

President Mohammed Shahabuddin was the first to place a wreath at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar on behalf of the nation followed by prime minister Sheikh as the head of the government.

The president and the prime minister stood in solemn silence for a while as a mark of profound respect to the language heroes.

Hasina along with her party leaders and cabinet colleagues placed a wreath at the altar on behalf of the ruling Awami League, followed by Jatiya Sangsad speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, chief justice Obaidul Hassan and other justices, deputy speaker Shamsul Haque Tuku, ministers, leader of the opposition in parliament GM Quader, chiefs of three forces.

State dignitaries and people from all walks of life placed wreaths at the altar of the monument while Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February was sung in a chorus at the Central Shaheed Minar.

No sooner the memorial was opened to public to pay respect after the dignitaries left, the altar of the monument was soon covered with wreaths.

Breaking the silence of night, mourners mostly dressed in black and white carried placards and banners commemorating the language martyrs, some demanding uses of Bangla at all sphere of life.

All government, semi-government, autonomous and private organisations have been asked to hoist the national flag at half-mast according to exact rules, colours and measurements.

President Shahabuddin and prime minister Hasina have issued separate messages on the occasion, which is also observed as International Mother Language Day.

The president, in his message, said, ‘Nowadays, the spirit of Amar Ekushey is the incessant source of inspiration for the people of  the world in protecting their languages and cultures. But we have to be more diligent in proper practice and preservation of Bengali language and culture.’

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, said, ‘The UNESCO and Bangladesh have been jointly celebrating this day with due dignity since 2000. I think this year’s theme of the day—Multilingual Education: a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning—is worthwhile.’

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, in his message, said, ‘Ekushey February was a fiery day against all injustice. They [language heroes] had set an example by sacrificing their lives for the mother tongue and their sacrifices inspired us to continue struggles,’ said Fakhrul.

The Central Shaheed Minar has been decorated with Bangla letters against the backdrop of a rising sun for the observance of Shaheed Dibas, which has also been observed simultaneously as International Mother Language Day since 2000 following a UNESCO declaration.

On February 21, 1952, corresponding to Phalgun 8, 1359 on the Bangla calendar, the then Pakistani rulers banned protests against the announcement of Urdu as the only state language, even though a majority of the combined population spoke Bangla.

Salam, Jabbar, Rafiq and Barkat were killed in police firing on a student procession, brought out defying the ban and demanding Bangla as a state language.

The events of the historic Language Movement led to other landmark movements, including the historic Six-Point Movement of 1966 and the Mass Uprising of 1969, which culminated in the War of Independence in 1971.

According to the route map of the Dhaka University, people can enter through the road in front of the Salimullah Hall and Jagannath Hall and exit from the Central Shaheed Minar through Dhaka university playground via Doyel Chattar, Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Chankharpool.

Different political parties, including the ruling Awami League, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal–Jasod along with socio-cultural and professional organisations and educational institutions have taken elaborate programmes to mark the day.

The Bangladesh Police, the Rapid Action Battalion and other law enforcement agencies beefed up security in the area.

Entry to the Central Shaheed Minar area has been restricted since 6:00pm on Tuesday to 6:00am today.

‘We have taken all-out preparations to celebrate the day. The law enforcement agencies have taken tight security measures as well,’ Dhaka University proctor professor M Maksudur Rahman told New Age.

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