Bangabandhu in Language movement

Gaziul Haque

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The background of the Language Movement is huge. It can be said in this background a greater figure was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Language Movement and Bangabandhu, Bangabandhu and Liberation Movement, Bangabandhu and Bangladesh all are knitted together so closely that one cannot be imagined without the presence of others. So, we must recall the name Bangabandhu we discuss regarding these issues. Before the inception of Pakistan in 1947, the true self of its proposed leaders had been revealing and simultaneously the youth of this part of the world started to think about protecting their own rights. The first meeting was held at a room of Siraj-ud-Daula hotel in Dhaka. A handful of people like- Kazi Idris, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Shahidullah Kaiser, Ataur Rahman from Rajshahi, Akhlakur Rahman and few others were present. The topic of discussion was- what is the responsibility of youth of East Bengal after Pakistan is established? A few days before that, Doctor Ziauddin, the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Univesity said in an essay that the state language of Pakistan shall be Urdu.

Doctor Muhammad Shahidullah gave a tough reply. In an essay published in Azad, he said in opposition to Doctor Ziauddin’s proposal he said, if proposed Pakistan has only one state language, according to democracy Bangla, the language of 56% people should be it. If there are options of more than one language the Urdu might be considered. The words of Shahidullah stirred the erstwhile youth community who used to hold the progressive and non-communal political thoughts. In a consequence, the meeting of Siraj-ud-Daula hotel was held. It was decided that no sooner Pakistan will be established a youth conference of the non-communal East Bengal must be addressed. The leaders of the conference reached Dhaka and communicated with the student and youth leaders of Dhaka. Activists’ council of East Pakistan was addressed on 6-7 September 1947. The council was held at the residence of Dhaka Municipality’s vice chairman Khan Abul Hasnat because the government of Khawaja Nazimuddin and its beneficiary goons created an obstacle. On September 7, ‘East Pakistan Democratic Youth League’ was born.

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If Mujib vai did not reach Dhaka neither the hartal nor the picketing on 11th March would take place. Strike took place on 11th March, picketing was done in front of the secretariat and from there student leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested along with his other comrades Oli Ahad, Shamsul Huq, Shawkat Ali, etc.

The then-student leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman read the announcement. He said after raising the proposal regarding language: ‘The East Pakistan Activists’ conference proposes that, Bangla should become the medium of writing and language of legal courts. Let the discussion and choosing the state language of Pakistan to be endowed upon the people and the decision of the people will be accepted as final. This is how the first demand regarding language was raised. And demand for the right of getting education free primary and secondary education through mother tongue was raised. Also, demand for establishing the education system in accordance with the national and cultural tradition was raised. The demand that was raised about the language in the Activists’ Council of East Pakistan in 1947 was echoed by a thousand voices in the first part of March 1948. Dhirendranath Dutta proposed to set Bangla as state language on 23rd February at Pakistan’s constituent assembly and for that proposal, Liaquat Ali Khan reprimanded him openly. He and Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan expressed to set Urdu as the state language. East Pakistan’s representative Khawaja Nazimuddin and Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan opposed the proposal of making Bangla as the state language. Nazimuddin said, most of East Pakistan’s inhabitants want Urdu as the state language. The Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad was formed in Dhaka. A student strike on 11th March was called upon. On 10th March a meeting of Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad was held. In the meeting the people who wanted to compromise started to conspire. When many including the convener of Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad were confused about compromise with the government, a loud voice said, “Who has given the proposal of compromise with the government? If not so, tomorrow’s strike will go on, and there will be picketing in front of the secretariat.” Student leader Sheikh Mujib was supported by Oli Ahad, Mohammad Toaha, Shawkat Ali of Mogoltuli, Shamsul Huq.

The conspiracy of the people who wanted to compromise was ruined. On an interview, Oli Ahad said, “If Mujib vai did not reach Dhaka neither the hartal nor the picketing on 11th March would take place. Strike took place on 11th March, picketing was done in front of the secretariat and from there student leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested along with his other comrades Oli Ahad, Shamsul Huq, Shawkat Ali, etc. The movement of 11th March was spread throughout East Pakistan. As the situation was getting grave Khawaja Nazimuddin raised about the compromise. After a long discussion with Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad, the eight-point compromise agreement was signed. As most of the Language Movement leaders including Bangabandhu were in prison the draft of the agreement was taken there to take their consent. According to the condition, leaders were freed on 15th March. After being freed from prison Bangabandhu saw that the student-people, who were angry with the atrocity of police and government, were adamant to fulfill their demand. Sheikh Mujib could comprehend the pulse of people He besieged the manager meeting at University with student-people on next day. Police charged baton and threw tear gas there but the agitated student society stood firm against all the conspiracy under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib on that day.

On 4th February 1952 student strike was observed in the entire educational institute in Dhaka. Mujib was in prison then. Thousands of student-people rallied around the city with processions and everyone gathered under the Beltola to hear the next announcement. Sheikh Mujib conveyed his message through Shamsul Haque Chowdhury, Golam Maula, Abdus Samad Azad. He gave the message, supported the countrywide strike of 21st. He also added advice to besiege parliament on that day through the procession and collect signatures from the member of parliaments in favor of Bangla language. He further informed he and Mohiuddin Ahmed will go for a fast-unto-death on demand of freeing state prisoner. The hartal of Ekushey February will be observed from Beltola. After the notice of fast-unto-death, Bangabandhu was taken to Faridpur prison on 16th February. During his journey, many people including Mr. Shamsuddoha met with him at the steamer port. Bangabandhu informed them about the fast-unto-death of him and Mohiuddin. He requested that during the hartal of 21st February, after a procession the parliament to be besieged and signatures for the support of Bangla language are taken from the members. A meeting was held on 19th February at the University of Dhaka with the demand of freeing all the state prisoners including Sheikh Mujib. Strong support for 21st was stated from that meeting. The fierce agitation of 21st cornered the Muslim League government. They were forced to free Bangabandhu. The free Bangabandhu invested all his power to flourish and strengthen the anti-autocratic, democratic spirit of language movement. He ordered to efface the word ‘Muslim’ from East Pakistan Muslim Student League to transform it into a secular Student organization. Under the chairmanship of AHM Kamruzzaman, the word ‘Muslim’ was effaced from the tradition Student League to transform it into a secular student organization. On 1955 under his leadership at the Activists’ Council of Awami Muslim League, a recommendation was made to make Awami League a secular political organization. On 1955 Awami League was converted. Bangabandhu fulfilled his vow of secular politics that he took in 1953 after the procession of 21st February meeting in just two years. He created a flow of secular politics throughout the country and its consequence was the liberation war that gave the birth of an independent Bangladesh, the constitution of 72, the main principle of secularism, the banishment of communal politics.

Bangabandhu took part in the Language Movement held and held its spirit. He had the determination for earning the recognition and augments the esteem of mother tongue. The spirit was always active to establish a separate state for Bangla spoken people. Till his death, he did not comprise it. The nation will never forget his role.

Writer: Gaziul Haque

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Bangabandhu in Language movement

The background of the Language Movement is huge. It can be said in this background a greater figure was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Language Movement and Bangabandhu, ...

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