The masses of the people of independent Bangladesh reverently remember the martyrs of the great language movement on Amar Ekush Martyr's Day every year. The language movement of 1952 is mixed with the holy blood of the martyrs and the glory of the Bengali national liberation struggle. On February 11, 1952, the students of Bengal sacrificed themselves and established the right to their mother tongue.
Bloody Immortal Ekushey February sits on the glorious seat of International Mother Language Day today through the flood of blood. February 11 has revealed the horizon in the light of the never-extinguishing flame of the struggle for the dignity of the mother tongue of every nation of the world, independence, freedom and the struggle to live like a human being, not only Bengali. February 11 has taught the people of this country the mantra of self-sacrifice, which has made Bengalis great. As a nation, we are inspired to establish the right of self-determination and have adopted a non-communal spirit combined with a language-based Bengali nationalist ideology. The spirit of great freedom has come along the path of the great language movement. This year, the 72nd anniversary of the great language movement is being celebrated around the world including Bangladesh.
In fact, the language movement to protect the rights of the mother tongue was started on March 11, 1948 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote in the book 'Unfinished Autobiography', "We saw that there is a big conspiracy going on to exclude Bengali and make Urdu the national language. East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League and Tammaddun Majlish protested and demanded that both Bengali and Urdu should be made state languages. We held a meeting and started the protest. At this time the East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League and the Tammaddun Majlish jointly convened an all-party meeting and formed a 'Rashtra Bhasha Sangram Parishad'.
In the meeting March 11, 1948 was declared as 'Bangla Language Demand' day. District by district we went out.” (Pages-91, 92). On March 11, 1948, the students of Bengal held their first protest program demanding one of the national languages. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and Mr. Shamsul Haque were among those who were imprisoned on the streets for the demand of mother tongue. The leaders were imprisoned for five days from March 11 to 15. Reminiscing about his five-day imprisonment, Bangabandhu wrote, “The Muslim girls' school is outside the walls. During the five days we were in jail, at ten o'clock in the morning the girls would go up to the roof of the school and start chanting, and finish at four o'clock. The little girls were not tired at all. "We want Bangla as the national language," "I want the release of the imprisoned brothers," "Police brutality will not continue" - various slogans. At this time, I said to Shamsul Haque Sahib, Haque Sahib, look, our sisters have come out. And you can't do it without making Bengali the state language. Haque Sahib told me, 'You are right, Mujib'." (Pages 93, 94). Bangabandhu had incredible confidence in the people of Bengal! Who knew then that, along the path of March 11, 1948, in the spirit of February 21, 1952, 1969 and 1971, the independent and sovereign People's Republic of Bangladesh would be born! But the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib knew! Because he was a visionary leader, setting goals and setting programs. The day Pakistan was established, he realized that this Pakistan was not for Bengalis; One day the fate of Bengal will be controlled by Bengalis. And so, step by step, he prepared the entire nation for the final struggle.
21 February ’52. Students gathered at Amtala, adjacent to Dhaka University's Kala Bhavan, demanding Bengali as the national language. Preparations to break section 144 imposed by Nurul Amin government. According to the decision of the student body, 10 people will march and break section 144. Students protested and broke section 144. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiq, Jabbar and many others were martyred when the police force of the government opened fire. The streets were stained with my brother's blood. Bangabandhu was imprisoned then. In jail, he went on hunger strike expressing solidarity with the demand of Bengali as the national language. In the book 'Unfinished Autobiography', he also wrote, 'No nation can tolerate insulting mother tongue. Although fifty-six percent of the people of Pakistan are Bengali speakers, Bengalis do not want to make only Bengali the national language. They want Urdu to be made the state language along with Bengali, no objection to that. But this generosity of Bengalis is taken by many as a weakness.' (page-198). The movement of February 21, 1952 spread in the villages of the country. There were processions from village to village. There was massive and spontaneous participation of school students in that procession. I was a third grader then. I remember the slogans of that time, 'Shaheed memory is immortal', 'I want the national language Bangla', 'My language is your language, Bengali language is Bengali language'.
February 21, 1969 played an important role in our national life. The 1969 mass movement erupted on February 21. On that day, 10 people were killed and 30 injured in police firing in Khulna. The movement which we started on 17th February 1969 with the demand of 11 points took full form. On February 15, Sergeant Zahurul Haque and on February 18, the people of Bengal erupted in protests after the death of Dr. Shamsujjoha. To quell the angry people, the government promulgated the Curfew Act. We broke the curfew and marched on the streets. The spirit of the language movement of '52 found fulfillment in the breaking tide of the mass movement of '69. At our call, the residents of Dhaka city broke all the precedents of the past 17 years with unprecedented vibrancy to pay heartfelt tribute to the holy memory of the immortal martyrs of the great language movement and to teach Bengali language throughout the administration.
The emphasis of the establishment raises the demand. I was able to unite the entire nation on the basis of 11 points with the aim of establishing a beautiful, pure, torture-free and exploitation-free social system. February 12 of that day delivered a new message of freedom and independence to the homes of Bengal. The day was Friday.
Through the mass movement of 1969, February 11 was the first official holiday in memory of the martyrs. On February 1st of that day, our program began with hoisting of the black flag, placing wreaths at the tombs of martyrs at Azimpur Cemetery, Prabhat Feri, praying for the souls of martyrs and placing wreaths at the central Shaheed Minar. On the occasion of Shaheed Day, an oath ceremony was conducted at the foot of Shaheed Minar under the initiative of Chhatra Sangram Parishad. Identifying February 1st of 1969 as an integral part of the great language movement, the leaders of the Central Chhatra Sangram Parishad said, "The struggle of February 1st language movement today has merged with the struggle to establish the democratic rights of the people by overthrowing the dictatorial regime. Today, the popular 11-point struggle of the student-community workers and peasants is thus following the tradition of the great language movement. The struggle of February 1, 1952 was not only a struggle for the Bengali language.
This struggle was the day for the establishment of democratic rights and the independence of Bengali speakers in the whole country. Shaheed Asad, Matiur, Maqbul, Rustam, Alamgir, Anwara, Sergeant Zahurul Haque, the 39 heroes of the 11-point movement, including Dr. Shamsujjoha, are the worthy successors of Shahid Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiq, Jabbar of the language movement of Bir Shahid ’52. A public meeting of Central Chhatra Sangram Parishad was held at Paltan Maidan at 3 pm. It's not a public meeting; it's like a sea of people. The size of the Paltan Maidan that day seemed less than the public gathering. People poured in from all directions. The leaders of Chhatra Sangram Parishad announced an extreme letter to the government from the meeting and said in unison, "Before next March 3, all the rights of the countrymen will be established, the resignation of the Ayub government, the withdrawal of the state vs. Sheikh Mujib case, the full implementation of the 11-point demand, within 24 hours all the prisoners including our beloved leader Sheikh Mujib." Unconditional freedom, all restrictions on freedom of press and speech must be withdrawn.' A day of self-affirmation, a day of giving and taking self-identity. 17 years ago this day was only the day of struggle to establish mother tongue as the state language.
Today in 1969, this day has become the day of people's overall liberation struggle. I would like to warn the controversies and those who raised them about the recent debates that have been started by the self-interested circles about Bengali language, Rabindra Sangeet, etc., that the nature of those who have not learned to speak Bengali language even after living in Bangladesh, has been revealed today. People of this class are unscrupulous. There will be no room for dishonesty in Bengal and if they try to use the political hammer in an eternal manner with the all-out struggle for independence, we must abandon the old practice of self-defense and go forward on every attack. Expressing a stern warning on the tragic death of Shaheed Sergeant Zahurul Haque, one of the prisoners in the State vs. Sheikh Mujib case, if the prisoner in this case gets even a scratch on anyone else, the fire will ignite across the country. And I am saying to the leaders, no one should use Sheikh Mujib's popularity as their political tool. After announcing the letter of extremism to the dictator, in a radio address to the countrymen in the evening, Ayub Khan surrendered and announced that he will not contest the next election and this decision is final and irreversible. On February 22, Bangabandhu was forced to release all the political prisoners including Sheikh Mujib and on the 23rd, the beloved leader was conferred with the title of 'Bangabandhu' in the presence of 10 lakh people on behalf of the Bengali nation at the Race Course Maidan (present-day Suhrawardy Udyan).
Then the blood stream of ’52 and ’69 came down the path of February 21, ’71. We won the historic elections of 1970. General Yahya Khan was engaged in various conspiracies on the issue of transfer of power to the majority party. Breaking all those conspiracies, in the early hours of February 1st, 1971, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, after offering a wreath at the holy altar of Shaheed Minar (I had a hand mic in my hand), said, "I will not let the blood of martyrs go in vain." We must prepare for the ultimate sacrifice. In memory of the brave martyrs of Janani Janmabhoomi, I swear that I will claim the independence of Bengal even with blood. The group of conspirators who have repeatedly killed the students-youth-farmers-laborers of Bengal since 1952. Those who have absorbed the flesh and blood of Bengalis for 23 years are still conspiring to thwart Bengal's independence movement, to enslave Bengalis forever. The soul of the martyr is returning to the house of Bengal today, saying, Bengali, don't be a coward. Claim your rights. Today I am also calling the people of Bengal from this martyr's altar, if I am unable to give orders, get ready, if necessary, I will give blood. But there is no compromise on the question of independence. We have made our beloved motherland independent by fulfilling this promise of the father of the nation expressed in the Shaheed Minar in Amar Ekushey Commitment. February 21 is our inspiration throughout the ages
[ The writer is the Advisory Council Member of Bangladesh Awami League and MP]