The nation will observe Amar Ekushey paying homage to the martyrs of the language movement of 1952 a minute after midnight past today by placing flowers standing in solemn silence for a while at Shaheed Minars across the country amid beefed up security.
The Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka has been decorated with Bangla letters against the backdrop of a rising sun for the observance of Shaheed Dibas, or February 21, which has also been observed simultaneously as the International Mother Language Day since 2000 after UNESCO announced the decision in November 1999.
On February 21, 1952, corresponding to Phalgun 8, 1359 on Bangla calendar, the rulers of the then Pakistan banned protests against the announcement that Urdu would be the only state language even though a majority of the combined population spoke Bangla.
Salam, Jabbar, Rafiq and Barkat who were killed in police firing on a students’ procession brought out defying the ban demanding Bangla as a state language on February 21, 1952.
The events of the language movement led to other landmark movements, including the historic Six-Point Movement of 1966, Mass Upsurge in 1969 and culminated into the War of Independence in 1971.
Like other years, Dhaka University is supervising the Amar Ekushey observance programmes. Observance committee member secretary AKM Golam Rabbani said that they completed all preparations.
Fine arts faculty students decorated altar of the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka and the walls around the Shaheed Minar monument with floral designs. Roads, dividers and islands have been decorated with the national flag, festoons and cardboard cut-outs with Bangla letters.
People from all walks of life will place wreaths at Shaheed Minars singing in chorus ‘Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February, Ami Ki Bhulite Pari’, standing in solemn silence for a while and file past the altar in honour of the language movement heroes.
President Abdul Hamid is expected to lead the nation to pay tribute to language heroes at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka, built in memory of the martyrs, a minute past midnight. The president will be followed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the speaker, the chief justice, and teachers of Dhaka University, language movement heroes and others.
Soon after the departure of the state dignitaries, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life would throng the area to pay floral tributes to the martyrs.
Law enforcers have drawn up special four-tier security for the Central Shaheed Minar and in its vicinity, Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah told reporters at Central Shaheed Minar.
‘There are no active threats. We have taken highest security measures to ensure peaceful observance of Amar Ekushey,’ he said adding that the entire area would be under the supervision of CCTV and visitors would need to cross multiple archways and checkpoints to enter the premises.
Bomb disposal squads, police personnel in plain clothes, special weapons and tactics personnel, patrol and roof-top security will be deployed to maintain law and order around the Central Shaheed Minar, he said.
Traffic will not be allowed on roads passing by the Shaheed Minar between 6:00pm on Tuesday and 2:00pm on Wednesday except for vehicles with authorised stickers.
People will be allowed to use road in front of old High Court Building, via Doyel Crossing, Bangla Academy, TSC crossing, road beside Dhaka University vice-chancellor’s house, Nilkhet police box, New Market crossing on their way to Azimpur graveyard, Dhaka University officials said.
People who do not want to visit Azimpur graveyard, will be able to go to Shaheed Minar through the left side road of Nilkhet police box crossing and road on west side of Jahurul Haque Hall and roads in front of Salimullah Muslim Hall and Jagannath Hall.
People will be allowed to visit Shaheed Minar from New Market crossing via road in front of Home Economics College and Eden Girls College, Ice Cream crossing at Azimpur, Plassey crossing, roads in front of Salimullah Muslim Hall and Jagannath Hall.
People will also be allowed to visit Shaheed Minar using Chankhar Pool and Bakshibazar crossing, through road on the south side of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, roads in front of Salimullah Muslim hall and Jagannath Hall.