BSS

Bengali at All Levels


 Shaheed Day is celebrated every year with due solemnity in Bangladesh to pay homage to the martyrs of the Language Movement of 1952. The demand for Bengali as a state language originated immediately after the creation of Pakistan and the first meeting on the language issue was held on December 6, 1947   in the Dhaka University Campus.

The students' meeting condemned the resolution of an Education Conference in Karachi advocating Urdu as the only State language of Pakistan.

A cut motion demanding Bengali as one of the State languages was tabled before the Pakistan Parliament in its first session by a prominent East Pakistani member, Mr Dhirendranath Dutta of congress.

The parliament discussed the motion on February 25, 1948 and rejected it as a move made by the Hindus to bring about the disintegration of Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jinnah , the first Governor-General of Pakistan , said in a convocation address at the University of Dhaka on March 24, 1948 that "there shall be one language to maintain co-ordination among the provinces of Pakistan and that language will be only Urdu and no other language.

Naturally , the state language will be Urdu. The so-called Father of the Nation's speech was interrupted by shouts of 'no' 'no ' from the students. It is intersting to note that while Bengali was then the language of 56% of the total population of Pakistan, Urdu was the mother tongue of only 7% of the people. The language movement in Bangladesh gained momentum from the very day of Mr. Jinnah's address and reached its peak on February 21, 1952.

The police opened fire on a peaceful procession of the students near the then East Pakistan Assembly House in Dhaka and the black roads of Dhaka turned red with the blood of Barkat, Rafiq, Salam, Jabbar and many unknown martyrs. Mr. Nurul Amin , the then Chief Minister of East Pakistan, defended the police action on the floor of the Assembly which was then in session.

The legitimate movement of the students of Bangladesh was later crowned with success when in 1954 Bengali was accepted as a State language in Pakistan along with Urdu.

 In 1971, the Bangla Academy of Dhaka , which was a positive outcome of the Language Movement, organized a week-long programme to observe the Shaheed Day. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the chief guest at the inaugural function which was presided over by the Bangla Academy Director, Mr. kabir Chowdhury on February 15, 1971 at the Academy premises. Here are some extracts of his speech in translation.      

.......The conspiracy against the Bengali language was first hatched on March 11, 1948 when the Constituent Assembly sitting in Karachi passed a resolution in favour of Urdu as the State language. At that time, only Mr Dhirendranath Dutta of Comilla had objected to the resolution. I wonder what our Bengali Muslim leaders were doing at the time.

The movement of 1952 was not only a movement for language, but also for the establishment of social, economic, cultural and political rights of the people of Bangladesh.

While paying homage to the Shaheeds of the Language Movement, I would like to declare that Bengali will be introduced at all levels the day my party is inducted into power. We shall not wait for the evolution of a glossary. Bengali will be introduced in whatever shape it is today.

But I am still sceptical about my party assuming power although it has a mandate from the people and holds an absolute majority in both the National and the Provincial Assemblies......

The then ruling clique of the country had maligned the people of East Bengal as the stooges of Hindus and agents of West Bengal for demanding Bengali as one of the State languages of the country. The magnanimity of the people of East Bengal was proved when they accepted Urdu as the other State language of the country............

Steady onslaughts have been made against the language and culture of the people of Bangladesh by the ruling cliques during the last twenty three years.  Only the youths of this country had resisted all such heinous moves. May I ask, what you , men of letters, were doing during these days ? Posterity will never forgive the people who had collaborated with the ruling cliques.....

Bengali nationalism is a great force today. The Bengalees have awakened and no power on earth can any longer supress or exploit them......

This week is significant for another reason. During this week, at the time of mass upsurge of 1969 , Sergeant Zahoorul Huq and Dr. Shamsuzzoha also laid down their lives.........

I condemn the role of a number of teachers of the Dhaka University during the Ayub-Monem regime. These teachers, for personal benefits , had not even tried to resist the reign of terror let loose by Monem Khan. A negligible number of teachers, who had the courage to criticise the Monem Regime, were either insulted or forced to leave the University. Had the teachers been more conscious of their roles, there would not have been such a situation in the country.

I urge our authors, poets and playwrights to write without fear or flavour. Write things which will reflect the hopes and aspiration of the peasants, the workers and the labourers.......

We firmly believe in a socialist economy and a society free from exploitation. We will not stay in power unless we can translate the hopes of the people that have been reposed in us................

(Source: Bangladesh my Bangladesh, Selected Speeches and Statements, Edited with notes by Ramendu Majumdar)

 

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