International Mother language day is celebrated every year on 21stFebruary. The primary purpose of the day is to enhance the awareness of languages in the world. There are about 6500 languages in the world and every two weeks, a language disappears and dies [4]. The less of the day is that we all should respect the mother languages of theirs. The day also teaches us to have respect for other people’s rights. (Article continues below)

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On 21st February 1952, the brave son of our nation laid down their lives to protect our mother tongue. Since then, we have been observing this day as a ‘Shahid Day,’ but in 1999, UNESCO declared this day as an ‘International Mother Language Day.’ A new dimension has been added with the declaration of UNESCO [2]. Let’s discuss the history of international mother language day and the language movement!

Background of the Language Movement :

On 14 August 1947, the  Indian subcontinent was divided into two-part. One part is India and another part is Pakistan. In Pakistan, there were also two-part . One part was east Pakistan whose language was ‘Bangla,’ and another part was west Pakistan whose language was ‘Urdu.’ There was an approximate distance of 1000 miles between east and west Pakistan. In the two-part of Pakistan, there was no similarity in history, tradition, language and culture. The two countries were united based on religion [2][3].

In the beginning, west Pakistan attacked the Bangali language and they declared  ‘Urdu’ as a national language of Pakistan. Although , Bangla was spoken by the majority of the people in Pakistan. The East Pakistan people protested because their language was Bangla, and the majority of the people lived in East Pakistan [2].

Actually, the language movement started in 1948. On 19 March 1948 , the Governor of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Zinnah, came to Dhaka. He gave a speech at the convocation of Dhaka University and he declared ‘Urdu’ as a state language. At the same time, all of the students protested and they loudly said ‘No,’’ No.’ At this time, the language movement spread in East Pakistan. On 18 November 1948, prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan came to Dhaka and gave a speech. Then he declared ‘Urdu’ as a state language of Pakistan. All the students protested and said ‘No,’ ‘No’ [1][2]

The language movement reached its final stage in 1952 after the speech of Pakistan new prime minister Khawaja Nazimuddin. He also declared ‘Urdu’ as a state language of Pakistan. In protest of Nazimuddin's speech, ‘Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad’ held a protest meeting, and students strike in Dhaka.

image credit : bhasha-andolon 

On 4 February, students of Dhaka University and other educational institutions gathered at the Dhaka University premises, and their demand was Bengali be adopted as the state language. The students staged a massive demonstration at the end of their rally [2]

image credit : thedailynewnation 

From 21 February, section 144 issued in Dhaka and all kinds of meetings, rallies and processions are prohibited. The students decided to break down section 144. On 21 February, the students marched in violation of section 144 and then police open fired on them. Rafiq , Salam, Barkat, Zabbar and many others were martyred by the police firing and many of them injured. The brave son of our nation laid down their lives to protect our mother tongue. A mourning procession was held on 22 February, and on 23 February a martyr’s minaret was built where the students were shot dead by police [2].

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From 1952, we have been observing this day as ‘Shahid Day.’ This day is our national holiday. In 17 November 1999, UNESCO declared this day as ‘International Mother Language Day.’ This declaration has turned a nationwide celebration to an international festival.This day is celebrated all over the world as ‘International Mother Language Day’ from 21st February in 2010 [1].

On this day, we woke up early in the morning and gathered before the Shaheed Minar (The Shaheed Minar is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was established to commemorate those killed during the Bengali Language Movement of 1952 in then East Pakistan.) barefooted just to offer their profound respect to the martyrs. The Government and the different organizations arrange programs to celebrate the day. This day is celebrated all over the world.

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