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Language heroes remembered with love, respect

Staff Reporter:

The nation paid rich tributes to the martyrs of the historic 1952 Language Movement on Wednesday, marking Amar Ekushey, Shaheed Dibash (the Martyrs’ Day) and International Mother Language Day.

Throngs of people walking barefoot, wearing black badges and singing Amar Ekushey anthem ‘Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano Ekushey February’ placed wreaths at Shaheed Minars across the country recalling the contributions of the Language Movement heroes to establishing the honour of their mother tongue and demanding Bangla’s recognition as one of the official languages of the United Nations.

President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage to the valiant sons of the soil by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at zero hours on the day.

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

Flanked by senior party leaders, Sheikh Hasina placed another wreath on the plinth of the monument as Awami League president.

Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan, cabinet ministers, Leader of the Opposition GM Quader, members of the diplomatic corps, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof ASM Maksud Kamal, family members of language martyrs, freedom fighters and representatives of different government and private organisations and political, cultural and professional bodies also placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.

Later, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public and hundreds of people from all walks of life got the opportunity to pay floral tributes to the martyrs.

A delegation of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by its Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the morning.

Other political, government and private organisations, including 14-party Alliance, Dhaka north and south city corporations, University Grants Commission, and Jatiya Press Club, among others, also placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar and arranged discussions and cultural programmes marking the day.

In observance of the day in a befitting manner, the Central Shaheed Minar premises were tastefully redecorated with paintings, graffiti, buntings and selected verses on the mother language.

While paying homage to the language martyrs, people said Bangla should be made one of the official languages of the United Nations and the practice of the language must be ensured at all levels in the country.

“The language martyrs didn’t only establish honour of Bangla but also sowed the seed of our independence.

They gave us our national identity. Therefore, we must be respectful of the Bangla language and culture to show respect for them and promote it at all levels,” cultural activist Sharmin Rahman told the Daily Sun after paying floral tributes to the martyrs at the Central Shaheed Minar.

Referring to the contributions of the Bangla language movement activists to inspiring language rights movements around the world, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury said Bangla should be made one of the official languages of the United Nations.

The Ministry of Cultural Affairs observed the day with elaborate programmes.

State-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar and private TV channels and radio stations aired special programmes while newspapers published special supplements highlighting the significance of the day.

Offering Fateha and Qurankhwani were held at Azimpur graveyard and special prayers were also offered at all places of worship across the country seeking eternal peace for the language martyrs.

All educational institutions, local government bodies, district and upazila administration, and Bangladeshi missions abroad also observed the day with due respect.

On 21 February 1952, students and the common people in Dhaka took to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government’s denial of Bangla as the state language.

Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few others were killed in police firing on this day when students came out in a procession from Dhaka University defying Section 144.

The day has been observed across the world as UNESCO on 17 November 1999 recognised 21 February as the International Mother Language Day.

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