Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?



Pradip Kumer Dutta
Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?

Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?

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We mean the language movement in Bangladesh after the British rule in Pakistan in 1948 and the movement to establish the status of the Bengali language through the self-sacrifice of twenty- two immortal language martyrs. February 21 is a landmark day for the world language movement. Bengalis of East Bengal were inspired by the success of that movement. The discriminatory treatment of Pakistan has fueled the independence movement. We got the freedom of Bangladesh as a result of many movements, struggles and above all the indescribable hardships of the great liberation war and sea-like sacrifices and infinite bravery.

Much later, towards the end of the 20th century, Mother Language Lovers of the World was formed in Vancouver, Canada, under the leadership of Bangladeshi Canadian expatriates Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam. With the initiative and tireless efforts of this organization and the overall cooperation of the Government of Bangladesh, the day has been recognized as International Mother Language Day in the World Assembly today. The pledge announced by the United Nations today is to establish every language in the world in a place of dignity and not to let even one of the existing 7,000 languages be lost. Meanwhile, many languages, along with their culture, archeology and history, have been erased from the face of the earth due to hegemony and lack of awareness among the masses.

Therefore, we have to understand, despite having a golden history and success of the language movement, only the Bengalis of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) are not the only ethnic groups who have struggled and sacrificed their lives for the language. Half a millennium ago, the Spanish imperialist power in South America called Maya, Aztec, and Inca developed at that time. The nations of civilization were destroyed by genocide. They destroyed all the books of ten thousand local libraries. Today, only three books of the original Maya language are preserved (in Mexico City, Madrid and Dresden). Couldn't save the libraries and gradually destroyed their culture and ethnicity.

The Bengalis of Manbhum, a part of the Santal Pargana of the Bengal Presidency, have made a significant contribution to the preservation of the status of the language of the Bengali-speaking people. At the cost of many years of struggle, blood and life, they have established their demands. After that, the movement to protect the dignity of Bengali language started in Cachar, Assam. The first woman martyr Kamala Bhattacharya who gave her life for the Bengali language has lost her life in this movement.

In 1961, the Bengali people of Assam's Barak Valley joined the movement to uphold the status of their mother tongue. Although the majority of Barak's people speak Bengali, it was decided in 1961 to make Ahamia the sole state language of Assam. The Bengalis of Barak flourished. Bengali language got the status of one of the official languages of Barak Valley.

The Manbhum language movement has a long history. Manbhum district of Santal Parganas was Bengali dominated but belonged to Bihar for a long time. After India's independence, the Bengali speakers were under pressure due to the strictness of Hindi usage there. They jumped into the movement to uphold the dignity of the mother tongue. With the success of this movement which lasted for eight years from 1948, Purulia district was formed on November 1, 1956 with the Bengali speaking region of Manbhum. Purulia was taken from Bihar and merged with West Bengal. The door of using their mother tongue Bengali was opened before them.

Now back to the history of May 19. Assam's Barak Valley has been home to Bengali speaking communities since ancient times. At one time, most of the Dimasa people in this area belonged to the Cachar kingdom. Dimasa patronized royalty and Bengali language. Over time, when the British partitioned India, Sylhet, a part of Assam province, became part of East Pakistan. Cachar district is formed with part of Sylhet and Dimasa hilly and plain areas. This district has now been divided into four new districts namely Cachar, Hailakandi, Karimganj and North Cachar Hill District (Dima Hasao).

Since the partition of the country in 1947, the residents of Cachar district of Barak Valley have been subjected to discrimination. Assam is for the Ahamias and the Bengalis are outsiders there. That trend still exists. A class of politicians also floated in the tide of nationalism. The Bangalee Kheda Movement was also formed at one time. Even though those movements and violence were suppressed by the government, such problems kept cropping up from time to time.

After India's independence, members of the Assam State Legislative Assembly could speak in Bengali, Hindi or English. The first blow came on language. The Bengali people of Assam protested and resisted the declaration of Ahamiya as the only state language, the attempt to introduce it as a medium of education and the right to speak in Bengali in the Legislative Assembly. Assam State Government did not go for any acceptable solution. They adopted the policy of Ahmadiyya nationalism giving preference to narrow minded leaders. Bengalis also started organizing.

It can be assumed that the leaders of the movement were inspired by the success of the Dhaka language movement and Manbhum language movement. At the end of 1960, the Assam Legislative Assembly passed the Language Bill. The final nail has been hammered into the coffin. The Bengalis were blown away. The continuous movement continued. Satyagraha, non-cooperation, hartal, rail stop, Sankalpa Divas, Barak Valley became turbulent in the non-violent movement of Itakara. At one stage of this movement, on May 19, 1961, Satyagrahis, who had been agitating since dawn, gathered at the railway station of Barak, the center of Silchar. Thousands of student youth mobs occupied the railway station premises and railway lines. Unable to remove them, the government resorted to brutal repression. Police forces resorted to indiscriminate firing to disperse the crowd. A total of 11 students including the world's first female language martyr Kamala Bhattacharya were killed. They are known as eleventh language martyrs.

Their sacrifice was not in vain. In the Barak Valley, Bengali language gets the status of the second state language. Shaheed Minar with portraits of martyrs was installed in front of Silchar railway station. Along the way, Shahid Minar of the same shape later spread in the entire Barak Valley. Silchar railway station has been renamed as Janata Bhasha Shaheed Railway Station. However, it has not yet received full government recognition.

The self-sacrifice of activists including eleventh martyrs to protect the dignity of Bengali language has entered the pages of history. But do Bengalis of all areas have the right idea about this language movement? The answer is 'no'. It is our duty to take the initiative to tell the stories of their sacrifices so that the future generations will be inspired by their fighting spirit and learn to fight against all injustices. The eleventh language of the Barak valley remains a martyr. May the rights and dignity of all mother tongues including Bengali be upheld.

Many who participated in that movement are still alive. Many of those who led are alive. At the same time, it is not difficult to find witnesses. However, they will no longer be among us naturally within the next century. Now is the perfect time to record their interview. Adequate research needs to be done on the movement, its martyrs and martyrs' families. Heroes need to be honored appropriately. We still have a long way to go to uphold the status of Bengali language and Bengali speaking people globally. We need more heroes. A hero does not grow in the soil where the hero is not respected.

Author: Essayist and Traveler 

   

Oppostion protest against the decision to whiten black money



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
photo: Collected

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The Opposition Jatiya Party and Independent Members of Parliament have expressed their anger over the proposal to whiten black money or undeclared money by providing 15 percent tax in the budget. They said that ordinary honest tax payers would be offended and would not want to pay tax which will have an adverse effect on the country.

They said this during the general discussion of the 2024-25 budget session of the Jatiyo Sangsad(JS) on Sunday (June 23). The Speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury presided over the session.

Jatiya Party Member of Parliament Masud Uddin Chowdhury said in the session that there is no new message of hope in the proposed budget. Instead regular tax payers have been discouraged by giving opportunities to whiten black money. And those who did not pay tax were encouraged.

He said, everyone pays 30-35 percent tax legally. And those who have not paid tax for a long time, that black money will be made white with 15 percent tax. So why do ordinary people pay regular taxes? It is unethical; as a result many people will take this opportunity without paying tax.

He said that this black money is of two types, it is earned illegally, it is not even shown for that. Another type of income is earning, they also did not pay tax. He strongly opposed the legalization of most of them black money, illegally earned money and demanded their punishment. He also spoke about the problems of common people due to inflation.

He said, remittance is a major driving force of our economy. About 1 crore people send thousands of crores money of remittances every year. Among them, there is a lot of writing about Malaysia; they send Tk. 4 thousand crores per month, Tk. 51 thousand crores annually. Many people think that there is a conspiracy about why so much money will come. There is also a syndicate with this. As a result they are also having problems sending remittances, creating instability there. Therefore, he demanded to facilitate remittance warriors and stop corruption, money laundering, bank robberies etc. in the banking sector.

AKM Mostafizur Rahman, another Member of Parliament of the Jatiya Party, said that the budget has kept the privileges of the upper classes. And the middle class will be under pressure. Various policies of the budget did not go in favor of the poor.

He said that the government's income will decrease as the price of cigarettes is not increased. It is the government's responsibility to ensure health care, but there is corruption everywhere, even though thousands of crores of rupees are allocated annually, people are not receiving medical care.

He said that the health system should be reformed to restore order in the health sector. Mega project loans are being taken, a large part of which is being taken up by outside contractor engineers. The young society in our country should be skilled in this regard.

Criticizing the decision taken to whiten black money, he said that as a result common taxpayers will not want to pay tax. So you have to move away from that expectation.

Independent Member of Parliament Abul Kalam Azad demanded that the money of the country has been diverted abroad, they should be identified and the money should be returned and they should be brought under punishment.

He criticized how the sovereign allows the parliament to launder black money. He demanded the identification and punishment of those involved in money laundering, corruption, and non-payment of loans from banks.

Another Independent Member of Parliament Sohrab Uddin said that the list of distressed banks has been prepared recently, and Bangladesh Bank has decided to merge these distressed banks with solvent banks. But because no effective measures were taken, these distressed banks suffered, with customers withdrawing all their money. He condemned the hot decision of Bangladesh Bank for this.

Sohrab Uddin said that the Finance Minister said to whiten the 15 percent tax to give an opportunity to show undisclosed money in the budget. That will not serve the purpose. No one will show this undisclosed amount with 15 percent tax, 10 percent in the past also did not get much response.

He said if it can be taxed at 5 percent then it will show the huge amount of undisclosed money in the country, the objective of the Finance Minister will be achieved. So I will request the Finance Minister to levy 5 percent tax to launder huge amount of money.

He said that development in the country is going at a fast pace, but the problem is corruption. Corruption has increased if it is not curbed then the speed of development will slow down. Today there is no place where there is no corruption. A lot of money is being lost in the bank, corruption has increased, the officials and the chairmen of the bank are immersed in corruption today. There was no trial for them.

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Azim's daughter Doreen demanded Mintu's expulsion



District Correspondent, Barta24.com, Jhenaidah
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Jhenaidah-4 (Kaliganj) Constituency MP Anwarul Azim's daughter Doreen said, "I came to know through newspapers and magazines that Jhenaidah District Awami League general secretary Saidul Karim Mintu was the main planner of my father's murder." There is no place for a murderer in Awami League. He should be expelled from the team immediately. Along with this, the followers of Mintu in Kaliganj involved in the murder of the father should also be brought under the law.

She said these things in the rally organized to protest the killing of MP Azim and the 75th anniversary of Awami League organized at Kaliganj bus terminal on Sunday (June 23) afternoon.

Doreen burst into tears on stage in the presence of thousands of people.

She said, "Father did not give much time to the family. He used to run for the welfare of the people of the area all day long. He used to go to funerals of dead people. After the murder of my father, I can understand how popular he was by seeing your presence in this protest meeting today. Because of your love, father became MP three times in this constituency. Today, he was to be killed as a victim of political revenge. I demand exemplary punishment by finding the murderers of my father.

Former President of Kaliganj Upazila Awami League and former Upazila Chairman Jahangir Siddiqui also addressed the rally - Upazila Awami League Joint General Secretary UP Chairman Ohiduzzaman Odu, Upazila Jubo League President and Upazila Parishad Chairman Shibli Nomani, Kaliganj Pourashava Mayor Ashraful Islam Ashraf, Upazila Vice Chairman Shafikuzzaman Russell, General Secretary of Upazila Jubo League Jahangir Hossain Sohel and others spoke in the rally.

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It may be embarrassing to comment before 24 hours: Dr. Zahid



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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After 24 hours, BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia's personal physician Dr. AZM Zahid Hossain told that it may be embarrassing to comment on the physical condition of the BNP Chief before 24 hours.

He gave this information to reporters at the gate of Evercare Hospital in the capital on Sunday (June 23) night.

Zahid Hossain said Begum Khaleda Zia's latest condition is that, today, a temporary pacemaker has been set first and then a permanent pacemaker will be set. Today, she is currently under close observation in the Critical Care Unit(CCU) under the supervision of doctors. If the next 24 hours are not gone, it may become embarrassing to make any kind of statements and comments about her physical condition. Therefore, I wish prayers to the countrymen on behalf of her family, party and Acting Chairman Tariq Rahman.

He said, 'She was transferred to Evercare Hospital on the advice of his medical board doctors in a very critical condition last Friday. Later (till now) she is under treatment in CCU. By consensus of the doctors, her heart function had reached a point where she had three blocks - you know. I kept saying that anything can happen at any time. That incident was going to happen last Friday night. In that situation, the members of the medical board quickly brought her to the hospital. They started her treatment accordingly.

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‘I will always be committed to the needs of the country and people’: Army Chief



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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General Waqar-uz-Zaman took charge as the Chief of Bangladesh Army. After taking charge, he told reporters in his office, "I will always be engaged in the needs of the country and the people." I will fulfill the responsibility given by the government to help the civil administration in various fields including disaster management. Army will also work for world peace.

Regarding the Myanmar border situation, he said, "We are always ready without doing anything provocative."

Outgoing Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed handed over responsibility to the new Army Chief Waqar-uz-Zaman in his office on Sunday (June 23) noon. Then in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina General Waqar-uz-Zaman was given the badge of promotion as General by Chief of Navy Admiral M Nazmul Hasan and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Hasan Mahmood Khan.

In the afternoon he hold a courtesy meeting with President Md. Sahabuddin at Bangabhaban. On the same day, various farewell ceremonies of the outgoing army chief were completed.

Earlier, General Shafiuddin laid wreath at Shikha Anirban in the morning. He was given a farewell guard of honor at Senakunja. He planted saplings there. Both took part in a photo session after the handover ceremony at the headquarters.

Then, as per custom, the outgoing army chief climbs into an open jeep decorated with flowers. Army officers dragged him with a rope. At this time, officials from both sides of the road started giving flowers. He took them very passionately.

Waqar-uz-Zaman, the new army chief told the journalists, "First of all, I am grateful to Almighty Allah." It is a serious responsibility. Everyone will pray so that I can fulfill that responsibility beautifully.

Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said, 'I have worked with her. My working experience with her is very good. Whenever I asked that decision; She made that decision very quickly. Bangabandhu gave us an independent country. Thank you also to Bangabandhu. Thank you to all the martyrs. My gratitude to the freedom fighters. Because, they dedicated their golden days for us.

He said, 'Army works with the help of civil power. When the government gives us the responsibility to deal with disaster, we will fulfill that responsibility. We are working for world peace. I will always be engaged in the needs of the country and people.

He said, 'I will work to keep the army disciplined at all times. We are doing training all the time. I will see that the training continues. The Army is performing challenging duties in UN peacekeeping missions. Whenever we are tasked with building the country and nation; only then will we fulfill that responsibility.

Regarding the border situation in Myanmar, the new army chief said, 'We are engaged with all countries. We are also engaged with Myanmar. Our Defense Attaché is in the country. They (Myanmar) are in a civil war in their own country. I don't think they will do anything aggressive at this point. However, the army is always ready. Navy has increased patrols. The border guard is also ready.

He also said, "We have no unresolved issues with Myanmar except the Rohingya." We want them to take back the Rohingyas. Besides, I don't see any hatred or any other kind of problem towards them. We are continuing to try to solve the Rohingya issue in a peaceful way. We are never disappointed.'

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