Bangladesh is paying rich tributes to the language martyrs of the 1952 historic Language Movement with the clock striking 00.01am on Wednesday marking ‘Amar Ekushey’, the Language Martyrs Day and International Mother Language Day.
The great Language Movement, a significant event in the nation’s history, was aimed at establishing the right of the mother tongue as well as protecting self-entity, and culture and heritage.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were the first persons to pay respects to the martyrs when the first light broke in the Central Shaheed Minar at one minute past midnight.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar seven minutes before the clock struck 12 midnight, while President Abdul Hamid reached the Central Shaheed Minar five minutes before the zero hour.
The President and the Prime Minister proceeded to the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar together in slow pace as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey—’Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February’– was playing.
The President was the first to lay the wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar. Just after the President, the Prime Minister placed the wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.
Ministers, advisers to the Prime Minister, parliament members, the chiefs of the three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
On his arrival at the Shaheed Minar, the President was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman.
Flanked by cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Bangladesh Awami League, later placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
Walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar with wreaths and flowers singing ‘Amar bhaiyer rokte rangano Ekushey February’, people will pay their tributes to the heroes of the Language Movement who laid down their lives for achieving the recognition of Bangla as the state language of erstwhile Pakistan.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushan Ershad along with her party’s MPs will also pay homage to the Language Movement martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the wee hours.
Different political parties, their front organisations as well as socio-cultural organisations have taken various programmes to pay their homage to the language martyrs all day long.
As BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia is in jail, the party leaders will not go to the Shaheed Minar at night. They along with party leaders and activists will gather in front of Balaka Cinema Hall around 6:30am and then go to Azimpur Graveyard.
Later, they will go to the central Shaheed Minar to pay homage to the Language Movement heroes.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies have taken all-out security measures in and round the Central Shaheed Minar to ensure smooth observance of Amar Ekushey.
On February 21, 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 national language and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings on this day in 1952 when students came out in a procession from the Dhaka University campus breaching section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of then Pakistan.
Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, Amar Ekushey (Immortal Shaheed Day) inspired and encouraged the nation to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and struggle for freedom and the Liberation War.