Bangladesh observed the Amar Ekushey and the International Mother Language Day on Friday by paying rich tribute to the memory of the Language Movement martyrs and renewing the call for the proper use of Bangla in all spheres of life.
Streams of barefooted people from all walks of life filed past the shaheed minars across Bangladesh after placing flowers at the altars from one minute past Thursday midnight, singing ‘Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February’ in chorus
They also demanded that Bangla should be included as one of the official languages of the United Nations.
From the zero hour past Thursday to Friday 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.
Different organisations and local administrations also arranged book fairs, cultural functions as well as discussions marking the day in all the districts and upazilas.
In the capital, thousands of people stood barefoot in queues at the Central Shaheed Minar from the first hour. The crowd increased at abut 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.
The president and the prime minister stood in solemn silence for a while as a mark of respect to the language movement martyrs.
Hasina as the ruling Awami League president, along with her party leaders and cabinet colleagues placed another wreath at the monument.
Jatiya Sangsad speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, deputy speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, diplomats, Dhaka University vice-chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman along with the university teachers, Bangladesh Police among others, also paid tributes to the language martyrs in the first hour of the day.
No sooner the memorial was opened to public after the dignitaries left, the altar of the monument was covered with wreaths.
Breaking the silence of night, mourners mostly dressed in black and white carried placards and banners commemorating the language martyrs, some demanded uses of Bangla at all sphere of life.
Artistes sang patriotic songs and recited poems on the Central Shaheed Minar premises, decorated with Bangla letters against the backdrop of a rising sun.
Central leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by its secretary general Mirza 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 at about 8:00am.
Almost all political parties, student organisations and socio-cultural and professional groups as well as educational cross section of people paid tribute to the Language Movement heroes till Friday afternoon.
The national flag was hoisted at half-mast atop government, autonomous and private buildings. The day was a public holiday.
State run Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar as well as private television channels and radio stations telecasted and aired special programmes while newspapers published special supplements marking the day.
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.
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