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All roads lead to Shaheed Minar: Bangladesh paying homage to heroes of 1952 Language Movement

by The Bangla Herald
All roads lead to Shaheed Minar: Bangladesh paying homage to heroes of 1952 Language Movement

Bangladeshis are remembering the Language Movement heroes who sacrificed their lives in demanding Bangla as a state language of Pakistan in 1952 before independence.

People began flocking to the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka and other memorials up and down the country on Tuesday night to pay homage to the martyrs.

Barefooted, they carried flowers in their hands and the immortal line — “‘Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushey February, Ami Ki Bhulite Pari’ (Can I forget the twenty-first of February/ incarnadined by the blood of my brother?) on their lips.

The observance of the day, Shaheed Dibosh or Martyrs’ Day, kicked off at 12:01am on Wednesday formally with President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.

Salam, Rafique, Shafique, Jabbar and Barkat embraced martyrdom in police firing as they took to the street to intensify the campaign to establish Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan, sowing the seeds of subsequent movements for independence.

Eventually, Bangladesh snatched independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Feb 21, therefore, is not only a day of sacrificing lives for the right to speak one’s own language, but also a memorabilia of Bengali nationhood, individuality and cultural identity.

The UNESCO in 1999 declared Feb 21 as International Mother Language Day.

The day is a national holiday. The national flag flies at half-mast in honour of the martyrs on this day.

After the president, prime minister, political parties and dignitaries, people were allowed to place flowers at the Shaheed Minar.

Social and cultural organisations and educational institutions will organise programmes, including meetings, seminars, symposiums, and cultural competitions following the health protocols.

Bangladesh’s Permanent Mission to the UN and other missions abroad, too, will organise programmes to observe the International Mother Language Day with due solemnity and fervour.

Shahabuddin and Hasina in separate messages greeted people of all languages and cultures of the world, including Bangla, on the occasion of Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day.

The president emphasised the need for proper practice and preservation of the Bangla language and culture.

The spirit of Amar Ekushey is the incessant source of inspiration for protecting the own languages and culture of the people of different languages across the world, he said.

“But we have to be more diligent in proper practice and preservation of Bengali language and culture,” he said in his message.

In her message, Hasina remembered how Bengali nationalism was established through the Language Movement

She said Bangladesh has established the International Mother Language Institute, taken initiatives to preserve the world’s endangered languages and protect their dignity and ensured the use of the Bangla language in ICT.

Since 2017, the government has been distributing Braille books for the visually impaired and textbooks in the mother tongues of the ethnic groups at free of cost, the prime minister said.

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