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21 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Mother Language Day

Mother Language Day

Today the nation honours those brave sons of the soil who sacrificed their lives in order to uphold the dignity of Bangla on 21st February, 1952, simultaneously sowing the seeds of the independence movement.  From the early days of Pakistan, there arose significant problems for the Bengalis. Although the majority of Pakistan's inhabitants lived in the eastern province, representation and funding was not fairly distributed. Culturally too, there were rifts. Apart from a common religion, Islam, those in the west and east had nothing in common. Their language and cultural heritage were distinct - the majority in East Pakistan spoke Bangla, mother tongue of roughly 55 per cent of Pakistanis at the time. West Pakistanis, on the other hand, spoke a number of regional languages and Urdu was native to only 6 per cent of Pakistanis.

In 1948, after the government of the new Pakistan was formed under Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Urdu was made the sole state language. Efforts were made to have it universally spoken, an order that was insensitive to the East Pakistanis who had tenaciously maintained their right to speak and write in Bangla in spite of hundreds of years of foreign invasion. The students of Dhaka University protested spontaneously, and the Language Movement was born. Students, politicians and the intelligentsia banded together in a move to implement Bangla as a second official language, alongside Urdu, and the state language of Pakistan. The movement continued to gain momentum over the years, until its climax in 1952.

The already-disenchanted Bengalis were alarmed and angered by the brutality perpetrated by the authorities on 21st February 1952 and became increasingly agitated. Seeing this, the government made the gesture of instating Bangla as the state language of East Pakistan and a second state language with Urdu, in April of that year. The gesture far too late, for the agitation for recognition was sweeping the vast state. It slowly morphed into a desire for self governance, recognition, respect that, after 19 years of strife and tension, eventually evolved into a movement for independence, culminating in the nine-month long War of Independence that gave birth to Bangladesh in 1971.

In 1999, in recognition of the Bangla Language movement, UNESCO adopted a resolution declaring 21st February as the World Mother Language Day.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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