Nation set to pay homage to language martyrs

DHAKA - The nation is set to pay glowing tributes to the martyrs, who sacrificed their lives in the historic Language Movement for recognition of Bangla as a state language.

With the clock chiming past Monday midnight, people in thousands and from all walks of life will throng the Central Shaheed Minar and elsewhere in the country wearing black badges, with flowers in hands and singing "Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February" to recall the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day 65 years ago.

The day will also be observed in 192 other countries across the world as the International Mother Language Day, declared by the UNESCO on November 17, 1999.

On February 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 Pakistan government on February 29, 1956 was compelled to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages besides Urdu. The decision, however, could not stop the movement against repression and misrule of Pakistani government and subsequently led to the War of Intendance and ultimately the emergence of independent Bangladesh.

The government has taken extensive programmes to observe the 'Shaheed Dibash' and the International Mother Language Day on February 21 in a befitting manner.

As the clock strikes 12:01am Tuesday, President Abdul Hamid will lead the nation in paying tributes by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will follow him a few moments later.

The premier will be followed by the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the ruling party chief whip and leaders of the 14-party alliance.

Later, chiefs of the three services, diplomats, wounded freedom fighters, members of Dhaka University Teachers Association, Sector Commanders Forum, other political parties and socio-cultural organisations will pay their homage.

Later on, the Shaheed Minar will be opened to the public when thousands of people from all strata of society will walk barefoot to it for paying tributes to the valiant sons of the soil.

On the day, the national flag will fly at half-mast in all educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices and private buildings across the country.

The day is a public holiday.

Quran Khwani, Milad Mahfil and special munajat will be arranged at Azimpur graveyard in the city for the martyrs of the Language Movement.

Like previous years, Dhaka University authorities will organise the programmes at the Central Shaheed Minar in coordination with other relevant agencies.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will issue separate messages on the eve of the Day.

In line with the national programmes, the day will also be observed by all educational institutions, city corporations, pourasabhas, the district and upazila administrations and Bangladesh missions abroad.

Various organizations and institutes, including Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Institute, Jatiya Grantha Kendra, Islamic Foundation, National Museum, International Mother Language Institute and Shishu Academy will observe the day across the country through different programmes.

The programmes will include book fair, discussions, recitation, essay writing competition and cultural functions.

To mark the day, the Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas on Dhaka University campus will be decorated with street paintings and graffiti with Bangla alphabets and selected verses about mother languages on the walls.

A four-layer security will also be in place in and around the Central Shaheed Minar to avoid any unwanted situation. Besides, CCTV cameras will be installed from Shahbagh to Shaheed Minar.

Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and television channels will air special programmes on the occasion. National dailies will publish special supplements marking the day.

Bangladesh Awami League has drawn up an elaborate programme to observe Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day on February 21 with due respect.

The day's programmes of the party include placing of wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at one-minute past midnight on February 21, hoisting at half-mast the national and party flags at its offices across the country and Bangabandhu Bhaban and raising black flag at 6-30 in the morning as a mark of profound respect to the memory of the Language Movement martyrs.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)