I have never heard about any country except Bangladesh, fought for its own language. If we had not this movement in 1952, then Urdu (language of Pakistan) might be my language. I am very fortunate that I can speak in my own language, the most sweet language `Bangla’. Today is 21 February, the National Mourning Day and the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day. The main purpose of celebrating this day is to promote the awareness of language and cultural diversity all across the world. It was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999. Since then it is being celebrated every year.
Bangladesh was then the part of Pakistan and it was named as East Pakistan. Majority of the Pakistani citizens (as of 1952), about 54% of the citizens, were Bengali. Still Pakistan Government wanted to establish Urdu as national language. Bengali students in East Pakistan rose up and started protesting against it. As preparation for demonstrations was going on, the government imposed Section 144 in Dhaka, thereby banning any gatherings of more than three people. But on February 21, 1952 students began gathering on the University of Dhaka premises in defiance of Section 144. When a group of students sought to storm into the building, police opened fire and killed a number of students. As the news of the killings spread, disorder erupted across the city. Shops, offices and public transport were shut down and a general strike began.
February 21 became the Martyrs’ Day in Bangladesh. We call it `Shahid Dibash’. In this day we use to wear black dress with bare foot, go to the monument of Martyrs and celebrate the day as our national holiday. The most successful thing is that Bangladesh officially sent a proposal to UNESCO to declare 21 February as “International Mother Language Day.” The proposal was supported unanimously at the 30th General Conference of UNESCO held on 17 November 1999.
I am missing the monument tour today, wearing black n white Saree (traditional outfit), bare foot with bunch of flowers. `Amar shonar Bangla, ami tomai valobashi’ (I love you my golden Bangladesh).