Back to 1952 - The Language Movement

An indigenous language disappears every two weeks and nobody seems to be aware of this. This cumulates into the departure of cultural and intellectual heritage. After the Bhasha Andolon in Bangladesh which resulted in the death of students and intellectuals all over, Bangladesh had committed herself to promote Ekusheyer Chetona- the spirit of our language movement on a global scale. The country not only does aim to preserve its own mother language but also proposes to do the same for other 7,000 other mother languages currently spoken in the world.

After the initiator of such a proposal, The UN offered the answer to this cultural crisis by declaring this day as the  International Mother Language Day. We cannot dismiss the fact that linguistic diversity and multilingualism are a must for sustainable development especially at a time when speech and language is dying out and fading away at an alarming rate.

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All of this brings us to one colossal question, what exactly was the bhasha andolan?

It all started out with the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the Central Government was then under Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was designed that Urdu would be the exclusive nationalized language, even though the Bengali-speaking national populace indisputably formed the majority. The policy, served as a major provocation and stirred up a lot of political conflict with its epicenter being in Dhaka University.

The Bhasha Andolan served as a mechanism for the affirmation of the Bengali multi-culturalism and national individuality within Pakistan. The protest and agitation also strengthened the political and sectional enmity between the two wings of the East and the West. However, the movement also served as a muse to Bengali nationalist agitations in opposition to the political and economic ascendancy of West Pakistan, including the 6-point movement and subsequently the Bangladesh Liberation War (Muktijuddho) in 1971.

Defying the political emergency, the students of Dhaka University and other political figures and intellectuals started a procession on the historic day February 21. The Police soon open-fired and the prominent figures namely Abdus Salam, Abul Barkat, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar and some unidentified people were killed. The deaths of the student and other protesters was enough to cause a national pandemonium and immediately resulted in all pervasive strikes and protests throughout present day Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, February 21 is commemorated annually as the Language Movement Day. The Shaheed Minar was constructed to commemorate the agitation and pay homage to its victims. The blood splattering confrontation of February 21, 1952 completes 66 years today and yet it feels like it happened a few decades earlier. The Bhasha Andolon was the sole force, strong enough to give birth to an entire nation.

Ekushe or the Bhasha Andolan, also had huge cultural impact. The most famous lines of poetry penned down by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury- আমার ভাইযে়র রক্তে রাঙানো একুশে ফেব্রুযা়রি  (amar bhaier rokte rangano ekushe February), marks the achievements of the language movement and its achieved iconic status as one of the strongest political movement led by students.

Bangaldesh still feels strongly about Ekushe February. Hearts fill up with joy on this fateful day, in the Bangla month of crimson- Falgun. The brave sons and daughters of the soil stood up in spirited protest to assert Bangla as their Rashtro Bhasha and they took bullets in their body, resolutely. Blood was dribbled out in the parched and dusty soil of Dhaka. In return Bangladesh got her voice back.



07 Apr 2018 10:27 PM


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