The nation observed Language Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day on Wednesday by paying tribute to the memory of the Language Movement martyrs and renewing the call for proper use of Bangla in all spheres and that too properly.
Streams of barefooted people from all walks of life filed past the shaheed minars after placing flowers at the altars across the country from one minute past Tuesday midnight, singing Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February.
From the zero hour past Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon, tens of thousands of people paid glowing tributes to the language heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for establishing Bangla as a state language of the then-Pakistan in 1952.
Many in Dhaka and elsewhere while paying tribute to the Language Movement martyrs also demanded that the United Nations must recognise Bangla, spoken by around 30 crore people across the world, as one of its official languages.
In the capital, thousands of people stood barefoot in queues at the Central Shaheed Minar from the first hour. The crowd increased around dawn.
President Abdul Hamid was the first to place a wreath at the altar on behalf of the nation a minute after midnight, followed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina as the head of the government.
Hasina, also the Awami League president, along with party leaders, later placed another wreath at the monument on behalf of the party.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, leader of the opposition in parliament Raushan Ershad, diplomats, Dhaka University vice-chancellor, among others, also paid tribute to the language martyrs in the first hour.
Central leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by its secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in the morning paid tribute to the martyred language heroes and prayed for eternal peace of their departed souls at Azimpur graveyard where language martyrs Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat and Shafiur Rahman were buried. The party leaders later went to the Central Shaheed Minar where they placed wreaths.
Almost all political parties, student organisations and socio-cultural and professional groups as well as cross section of people paid tribute to the Language Movement heroes till Wednesday noon.
Ruling Awami League and its associate organisations men from Chhatra League and Jubo Leagues’ different units engaged in multiple internal clashes at the Central Shaheed Minar on the day.
Around 9:00am on Wednesday, members of the Suhrawardy College unit of Chhatra League engaged in a scuffle with their counterparts from Habibullah Bahar University College leaving at least 10 Bangladesh National Cadet Corps and Rover Scout members injured.
Later, DU Bijoy Ekattor Hall unit Chhatra League activists engaged in a scuffle with activists of Rampura Jubo League and Lalbagh Awami League men while departing the Shaheed Minar.
Law enforcers intervened to control the situation.
Terming the infightings as ‘isolated incidents’, Dhaka University Vice Chancellor professor Akhtaruzzaman said that those who were involved in the scuffle did not hold the spirit of the Language Martyrs’ Day.
The central Shaheed Minar premise was decorated with Bangla letters, with the rising sun in the background.
The national flag was hoisted at half mast atop government, autonomous and private buildings. The day was a public holiday.
Black flags were hoisted to pay tribute to the martyrs, including Salam, Jabbar, Rafiq and Barkat, who were killed by police firing into a students’ procession that was brought out, defying ban on procession or gathering near Dhaka Medical College in the city, demanding Bangla as a state language on February 21, 1952.
New Age correspondents in Jessore and Dinajpur reported that thousands of people of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India observed the day jointly along the border at Benapole frontier in Jessore and at Hili in Dinajpur.
At Benapole, guests from the two countries–ruling AL presidium member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya, Benapole customs commissioner Md Belal Hossain Chowdhury, Border Guard Bangladesh 49 battalion commander Ariful Huq and West Bengal government’s food and supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick, Uttar 24 Pargana district council president Rehena Khatun – placed wreaths at the makeshift Shaheed Minar erected at the no man’s land.
At Hili, different organisations from the two neighbouring countries joined the daylong programme organised by Hakimpur Muktijoddha Sangsad at the frontier where the guests including primary and mass education minister Md Mostafizur Rahman paid tribute to the martyred language movement heroes at a makeshift Shaheed Minar.
In Feni, the district administration organised a discussion and cultural function at the residence of martyred language movement hero Shaheed Abdus Salam at Salamnagar under Dagonbhuiyan.
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