Dhaka, Bangladesh
Myriad pay homage to language martyrs

Myriad pay homage to language martyrs

Memorials turn human sea at midnight

News Report: It boomed like the first cannon fire at the then exploitative Pakistan regime when 'NO, NO' sound rocked the gathering in Dhaka where Urdu was declared only state language. Victory came through a language war. The 21st February 1952 Language Movement cost the Bengalis dearly, but the blood shed amid the student-mass uprising not only established their right to mother-tongue Bengali but also seeded a protracted struggle for independence. The final fruition came in 1971. Memorials in the capital, Dhaka, and across Bangladesh as well as in different parts of the globe turned human sea at midnight on February 20 as myriads were paying homage to the language martyrs after the day of their martyrdom, February 1, dawned amid mournful strains around. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages on the eve of the unique historic occasion to pay the nation's debt to the valiant sons of this soil who laid down their lives for language and rights of a people. They later led the nation in paying homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka. The 'Amar Ekushey', the Language Martyrs Day or Shaheed Dibash, has assumed universal dimensions for humanity with its recognition as the International Mother Language Day by the United Nations. The day is observed around the world as the UNESCO recognised Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day on November 17, 1999 to proclaim sovereign rights of all linguistic ethnic groups to their respective mother tongue. This year's theme in observance of the International Mother Language Day 2020 is 'Languages without borders', which focuses trans-border languages and helps preserve indigenous heritage. The people of this land fought and triumphed at different junctures of history--epically in the 1952 language uprising and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War-and boast an envious heritage. A reawakening comes every February. A month-long exhibition of brains, brawn and promises replete in this legacy got off to a festive, but solemn, start on February 2, delayed by a day for the exigency of Dhaka city polls. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, opening the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2020, had reminisced about the glorious heritage and the sense of glory of the people, saying that this should be enriched further and carried forward, at home and abroad. That presupposes more translations of works on Bengali literature and culture as well as science and technology evolving fast nowadays and changing radically traditional life and livelihood-and even culture and values. So, Bangla academy which hosts the burgeoning annual book fair, in particular, has a great role in rendering into Bengali the latest terms and terminology for knowledge and education under updated and upgraded curricula, analysts say. Academics and experts feel the urgency of publication of books and translations on modern-day knowledge and know-how the frontiers of which are zooming out fast based on artificial intelligence and high technologies. And this academy could play a great role in containing those in Bengali books. A paradigm shift is being seen imperative through upgrading policy and works of this and all relevant institutions in Bangladesh. As part of the programmes of the day, people walking barefoot in tandem to the Central Shaheed Minar and other memorials with wreaths and flowers and singing 'Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano Ekushey February' were paying their respects to the heroes of the language movement. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings this day in 1952 when students came out in a procession from the Dhaka University campus breaking section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan. In his message, the President said, "The spirit of Amar Ekushey is now an inexhaustible source of inspiration for protection of own languages and culture of people around the world, Imbued with the spirit of Amar Ekushey, let the bond of friendship among multilingual people be strengthened, world's almost defunct languages revive and the globe be diversified in respective societies." Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her message said, "Holding the spirit of Ekushey and War of Liberation, our government achieved huge progress in every sector, including macro-economy, agriculture, education, health, communications, information technology, infrastructure, power, rural economic development, diplomatic success and cooperation during the last 11 years. Bangladesh is now a 'Role Model' for development in the world. She called for a synergy to forge ahead on the trajectory of advances. "Through the implementation of Vision 2021 and 2041, and Delta Plan-2100, we have been working to build a hunger-poverty-free and happy-prosperous Golden Bangladesh as dreamt by the Father of the Nation. Let us be firmly committed in the spirit of the great Ekushey, we will unitedly build the Golden Bangladesh of the Father of the Nation," she said. The government has taken extensive programmes to observe the day in a befitting manner. The day is a public holiday. Four-tier security has been in place around the main altar of the Shaheed Minar, its adjoining areas and the Azimpur graveyard of the language martyrs. Different political-social-cultural-professional organisations have arranged various programmes, including seminars and cultural functions. Quran Khwani and offering Fateha were held at Azimpur graveyard in the city while prayers arranged at all places of worship across the country seeking salvation of the departed souls of the martyrs of the Language Movement. Bangladesh missions abroad are also observing the language martyrs' day. The ruling Awami League programmes include the placing of wreaths at the central Shaheed Minar, hoisting at half-mast the national and party flags at offices across the country and Bangabandhu Bhaban and black flags in the morning, wearing black badges and placing wreaths on the graves of martyrs at Azimpur graveyard with Provat Feri as a mark of respects to the martyrs. National dailies published special supplements marking the day and Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and television channels were airing special programmes on the occasion. Opposition BNP also has chalked out a 2-day programme to observe Amar Ekushey.

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