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The bright history of the Bangalis

Updated on February 21, 2016

21st February: International Mother Language Day

In the history of every nation, there are some days which are remembered and observed with due respect; the 21st February is one of them. The whole Bengali nation shows respect to the language martyrs on this day. The 21st February is observed as the International Mother Language Day, though it was known as Martyr’s Day.

After two hundred years of blood-sucking torture and injustice, the British left the Indian sub-continent in the face of severe opposition. Then the two countries were born – India and Pakistan. The ruling government of Pakistan declared Urdu (the language of 5% people of Pakistan) as the National Language of Pakistan in 1948. They tried to impose it on the majority people (55%) whose mother tongue is Bangla. They denied the demand of the Bangalis for the recognition of Bangla as the National Language of Pakistan. In 1952, the protests erupted throughout the East Pakistan for the recognition of Bangla as the National Language of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan prohibited all kinds of processions and meetings by imposing a curfew under the clause 144. But the bold youth of the University of Dhaka including students, teachers, politicians, workers, farmers broke the curfew and brought out an adamantine procession to establish their demand. The police charged fire on the procession and as a result, Rafiq, Jabbar, Salam, Barkat, Shafiul and others met martyrdom. Due to their sacrifice, Bangla was recognized as the State Language of Pakistan. Since then, the 21st February is observed as Martyr’s Day throughout the country with due respect. At present near about 24 crore people speak in Bangla. According to the population, Bangla is the 4th greatest mother language in this world. In recognition of the work of 5,300 troops from Bangladesh in the UN Mission in Sierra Leone peacekeeping force, the government of Sierra Leone named Bangla as an Official Language in December 2002.

Shaheed Minar

The bloodshed on the 21st February did not end in smoke. History has paid for it. The Bangalis not only were able to keep intact the honour of their mother tongue, but also had the opportunity to instill into the minds of the nationals the very consciousness of independence. The 21st February aroused a pure sense of nationalism in their hearts. It went a long way in unifying the Bangalis. Accordingly, they again took up arms against the Pakistani colonialist rulers in 1971 and in the end became an independent nation on 26th March 1971. Now they are a free nation having a specific place, Bangladesh, on the map of the world.

On 9th January 1998, Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam, two Bangladeshis from Canada sent a memorandum to Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) demanding declaration of 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. On 17 November 1999, UNESCO declared the 21st February as the International Mother Language Day. They recognized Bangla language movement and it got international status. UNESCO and the other UN agencies take part in the events to promote cultural and linguistic diversity all around the world on International Mother Language Day. They appreciate and encourage people to know about their mother language and provide them with the awareness regarding the promotion of their language and culture towards other countries. In Bangladesh, the people go to Shaheed Minar (Martyrs’ Monument) to pay tribute to the martyrs of 21st February and sprinkle flowers on the monument on International Mother Language Day.

Bangla Language Movement

Martyrs in Language Movement

The 21st February has a big chapter of the bright history of the Bangalis. The Bangalis regained their right to speak in their mother tongue on this day. This immortal day is a ballad of pride and happiness tinged with the pathetic melody of tears.


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