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22 February, 2021 07:11:47 PM
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Bangabandhu's ample contribution to the language movement

The movement to make Bengali the state language has been going on since 1947, but the movement spread like wildfire when the final decision to make Urdu the sole state language was taken in the Assembly of Pakistan on January 26, 1952.
Majhar Mannan
Bangabandhu's ample contribution to the language movement

Bangalees are the only nation in the history of the world who have shed fresh blood and given their lives for their mother tongue. Man expresses his feelings, desires and emotions through his mother tongue and that is why the mother tongue is related to the existence of every human being.  A person can very easily dream in his mother tongue, exchange ideas, communicate and express feelings of happiness and sorrow to others. No one can ever take away someone's mother tongue and Pakistan made that nefarious attempt and had to pay the price. Language is the lifeblood of a nation's culture and the ruler of Pakistan wanted to destroy our culture. The rulers of Pakistan hit upon a plan to enslave us by killing our mother tongue. Within a few months of the partition of country in 1947, only Urdu and English were used, excluding Bengali from Pakistan's first currency, stamps, train ticket, postcards, etc. As a result, student and intellectual protests were held in Dhaka and the students were led by the then popular student leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The number of Bengali speaking people in the then Pakistan was much higher than the number of Urdu speaking people. But on March 21, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah announced that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan and his announcement was like a thunderbolt to the Bangalees. The movement to make Bengali the state language has been going on since 1947, but the movement spread like wildfire when the final decision to make Urdu the sole state language was taken in the Assembly of Pakistan on January 26, 1952.
Despite being a resident of East Bengal, Khwaja Nazimuddin repeated Jinnah's statement at a rally in the Paltan on January 27, 1952. The people of the rally started chanting slogans demanding to make Bengali the state language. Spontaneous strikes and protests began in East Pakistan on 28 January. A general strike was declared on 21st February and Section 144 was issued to prevent the strike but when the students marched in violation of section 144, the police fired indiscriminately at them, killing many. Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar, Safiur and many others were killed in the police firing. Urdu and English were made the official languages of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 25 February 1948. Dhirendranath Dutt proposed to adopt Bengali as the language of the Constituent Assembly along with English and Urdu as the language of the majority of the people of Pakistan. His proposal was rejected and protests began. Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishsd (The National Language Action Committee) was formed on February 27, 1948. A nationwide hartal was observed on March 11 to recognize Bengali as the state language. The language movement mainly started in December 1947 after the Karachi Literary Conference. It was announced at the conference that the state language of Pakistan should be Urdu. At that time some students of Dhaka University led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman rejected and protested the decision of the conference.
A manifesto was prepared in December 1947 with 21-point demands. The second of the 21 points was to establish Bengali as the state language. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a huge role in the preparation of this manifesto and he was one of the signatories. On September 6 and 7 in 1947, the Democratic Juba League was formed in Dhaka and some proposals on language were adopted at that conference and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman read out the resolutions adopted in the committee. The essence of the proposal was to establish Bengali as the medium of writing in East Pakistan and as the language of the courts. Mother tongue lover Sheikh Mujibur Rahman actively participated in the introductory phase of the language movement of 1947 and the highway movement of 1948 and was imprisoned and later as a member of the legislature played an incomparable role in establishing the status of the Bengali language. In December 1947, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman convened a meeting at the University of Dhaka and several political organizations, including the Tamuddin Majlis attended the meeting and decided to form a
Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishsd (The National Language Action Committee).  In that meeting, March 11 was declared as the language day. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the first leader to join the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad in a campaign to collect signatures in support of the Bengali language demand. At that time Walkers Camp was formed with progressive students’ society in Mogaltuli, Dhaka and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had regular contact with this camp and from this camp the language movement was led.
Chhatra League was established in the year 1948 under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Chhatra League made 10 demands, one of which was to make Bengali the state language. Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad was reformed on 2 March 1948 and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman played a vital role this time. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested on 11 March 1948 and it was a turning point in his life. In this context, he said that the state language movement was started on March 11, 1948 with the formation of the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad. An 8-point agreement was signed between the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad and Khwaja Nazimuddin on March 15, 1948. Before the agreement was signed, it was shown to the language activists detained in the jail and approval was taken. The agreement was signed after approval. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman saw the terms of the agreement and approved it. As a result of this historic agreement, Bengali language was first recognized as a medium of education and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other prisoners were released by the terms of the agreement. On March 15, the government objected to the release of some prisoners and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman strongly protested. A meeting was held at Dhaka University on 16th March to accelerate the language movement and it was led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The strike was observed in all educational institutions of the country on 17th March and was led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The language movement spread all over East Bengal as a mass movement due to the hard work of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mohammad Toha, Naeem Uddin Ahmed, Shawkat Ali, Abdul Matin, Shamsul haque and other youth leaders.
On January 4, 1948, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed an organization called Chhatra League with the students and through this organization the journey of language movement started. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested more than once while fighting for the language. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was leading the language movement on the streets on March 11, 1948 and was arrested from there. He outlined the entire March 11 strike programme. The secret reports made by the detectives at that time made it clear that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was leading the strike on March 11. When Muhammad Ali Jinnah announced in 1948 that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan, the students, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, immediately shouted 'no, no, no'.  And since then Muhammad Ali Jinnah has never made such a statement. He was released on March 15 and on March 16 he presided over the meeting of Rastrabhasa Sangram Parishsd (The National Language Action Committee) and promised to take the language movement forward from the front lines. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a strong demand to make Bengali the state language and he played a unique role in shaping public opinion. From prison, he led the mother tongue movement through various means.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman convinced Suhrawardy with his political wisdom and finally Suhrawardy made a statement in support of Bengali as one of the state languages of Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a true love and respect for his mother tongue and due to which he went on a hunger strike for 17 consecutive days in prison to establish his mother tongue rights and as a result he fell ill. The language movement that started in 1948 under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib was completed in 1952. Since he was in prison in 1952, he could not take part in the movement directly, but from prison he encouraged his followers to continue the movement. Bangabandhu's contribution to the development of Bengali language was immense. His contribution in making Bengali the state language and introducing Bengali at all levels was unique.
He played a major role in introducing Bangla language in the day to day affairs of Parliament. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also had a huge role in celebrating the first anniversary of Ekushey in 1953 and he called for declaring Ekushey February as Shaheed Day. As a minister of the United Front, he played a major role in the development of the Bengali language. In the session of the Legislative Assembly on January 27, 1956, he demanded that the daily proceedings of the Parliament be printed in Bengali. Bangabandhu laid flowers at the Shaheed Minar on February 21, 1971 and said that the language movement of 1952 was not limited to the language movement only, it was a movement for the establishment of socio-political, economic and cultural rights. This great leader introduced the Bengali language and Bengali speakers to the international arena. He adopted Bengali as the state language in the constitution of 1972.
He made history by giving a speech in Bengali at the United Nations on 25 September 1974. On March 12, 1975, President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman issued the first official order for the introduction of Bangla language in the office. Our State Language Day has now been accorded the status of International Mother Language Day. In 1.999, UNESCO declared 21st February as International Mother Language Day. The language movement is considered as the first step in the creation of the state of Bangladesh. We as a nation need to know and understand how Bangla became the state language and what the historical role of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was in it.


The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola
Dhaka Cantonment.

 

 

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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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