Kazi Liakat Hossain
ON February 21, 1952 the valiant soldiers of the language movement shed their blood for the recognition of our mother tongue Bangla. Prior to that, in 1948 Nayeemuddin protested against the utterance of MA Jinnah who said in a meeting at Curzon Hall “Urdu, only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan”. Nayeemuddin was not a leader or worker of any party, he protested on behalf of general mass and general students.
Language movement virtually started on 11 March, 1949. Congress leader Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Datta (killed during the liberation war) placed the demand before the parliament. It was the first demand for Bengali to be the state language. Principal Abul Quasem and his organization “Tamaddun Majlish” also played a vital role in initiation of the movement. On February 21, in 1952 rule 144 was promulgated. The then General Secretary of Awami League Shamsul Huq showed some logical arguments not to break 144 at Amtala of DU. Yet events took their turn.
Now, it seems the language movement was a prelude to our struggle for sovereign and independent existence. The blood of martyrs of the language movement did not go in vain. Ekushey February always instills in us the determination to fight for the right cause.
The sublime sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for the cause of the mother tongue shall remain ever green in the hearts of the people. Ekushey February should not be observed only as a yearly ritual as we continue to do.
Why book fair on this Day only? Why seminars and meetings only in observance of the Day? Why not act for Bangla round the year? Why we can’t start Bangla in the highest court of the country? To serve the cause of mother tongue we have to be above rituals. Those language martyrs proved beyond doubt that only through sacrifice and dedication any goal can be attained.
The UNESCO has proclaimed February 21 as the International Mother Language Day in recognition of the sacrifices of our martyrs for establishing the rightful place of their mother tongue. The proclamation came in the form of a resolution unanimously adopted at the plenary of the UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris on November 17, 1999. It is a great tribute and glowing homage paid by the international community to the language martyrs of Bangladesh.
On this memorable day we must ask ourselves to what extent have we, come up to the expectations of the language martyrs?
Ekushey tells us to shun differences, give up partisan politics and unite for the just cause. On this day can we not ask our leaders, whether they are following the path shown by our language martyrs? Those indefatigable martyrs did not hesitate the least in sacrificing their precious lives for the cause of Bangla language. Certainly we have drifted away from the path shown by them. Their memory should inspire us to serve the nation in an outright patriotic manner.
The martyrs of language movement were ruthlessly suppressed by the forces of oppression, but they remained steadfast to the cause. This is how selfless spirit yielded fruitful result.
Hence on this auspicious day, we must pledge to safeguard our hard-earned democracy, freedom, and sovereignty at all costs and help create an environment conductive to the flourishment of our mother tongue in all respects. Only then our tribute to valiant martyrs of the language movement will be meaningful.
Kazi Liakat Hossain is Advisory Editor of the Economy.