Dhaka: The supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day 65 years ago was remembered on Tuesday with hundreds thronging the Central Shahid Minar at the midnight to pay their glowing tributes to them placing wreaths.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to the language heroes by placing wreaths at the central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka at one minute past midnight.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar 10 minutes before the clock struck 12:00midnight, while President Abdul Hamid reached the Central Shaheed Minar seven minutes before the zero hour.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina 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, chiefs of three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, freedom fighters, high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Later, Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Deputy Speaker Fazley Rabbi Mia and Leader of the Opposition Begum Raushan Ershad placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.
Visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, the mayors of Dhaka North and South City Corporations Annisul Huq and Sayeed Khokan and chiefs of three services also placed wreaths at the Shaheed Minar.
On arrival at the Shaheed Minar, the President was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Professor Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique.
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.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JASOD) President and Information Minister and Hasanul Haq Inu also placed wreath.
Later, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, Sector Commanders Forum, different political parties and socio-cultural organisations paid their homage.
Later on, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public when thousands of people from all walks of life walked barefoot to it, with flowers in hands and humming ‘Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February’ to recall the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day in 1952.
The day is also being observed in 192 other countries across the world as the International Mother Language Day, declared by the UNESCO on 17 November, 1999.
On 21 February in 1952, students and people from all walks of life under the All-Party Students Action Committee took to the streets in Dhaka to protest the then Pakistan government’s refusal to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafique, Shafique, Jabbar, and some others embraced martyrdom when police opened fire on the procession in front of the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).
The movement for Bangla, however, did not stop and Pakistan government on 29 February, 1956 was compelled to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages besides Urdu.
The decision, however, could not stop the movement against repression and misrule of Pakistani government and subsequently led to the War of Intendance and ultimately the emergence of independent Bangladesh.
The government had already taken extensive programmes to observe the ‘Shaheed Dibash’ and the International Mother Language Day on 21 February in a befitting manner.
On the day, the national flag will fly at half-mast in all educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices and private buildings across the country.
The day is a public holiday.
Quran Khwani, Milad Mahfil and special munajat will be arranged at Azimpur graveyard in the city for the martyrs of the Language Movement.
Like previous years, Dhaka University authorities organised the programmes at the Central Shaheed Minar in coordination with other relevant agencies.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina already issued separate messages on the eve of the Day.
In line with the national programmes, the day is also being observed by all educational institutions, city corporations, pourasabhas, the district and upazila administrations and Bangladesh missions abroad.
Various organizations and institutes, including Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Institute, Jatiya Grantha Kendra, Islamic Foundation, National Museum, International Mother Language Institute and Shishu Academy will observe the day across the country through different programmes.
The programmes will include book fair, discussions, recitation, essay writing competition and cultural functions.
To mark the day, the Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas on Dhaka University campus were decorated with street paintings and graffiti with Bangla alphabets and selected verses about mother languages on the walls.
A four-layer security is in place in and around the Central Shaheed Minar to avoid any unwanted situation. Besides, CCTV cameras have also been installed from Shahbagh to Shaheed Minar.
Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private radio stations and television channels will be airing special programmes on the occasion. National dailies will publish special supplements marking the day.