When language instigated the freedom movement

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“Motherland, mother tongue and the mother herself are essential to epitomize a person’s life.

The importance of these in the overall development of an individual is immense.

Without the proper identity of these in life a person is like a wingless bird.

The mother tongue is like the wind under the wings.

It is the medium through which self- expression takes place in its highest form.

There are people who can express themselves well in foreign languages too.

However history seems to show that it is the mother tongue that bears the beacon.”

                                                                               – “Daily Star” (Bangladeshi Newspaper)

 

By Arka Mondal

21st February, the International Mother Language Day, has a special significance for Bangladesh not because of its relentless effort before the United Nations (UN) to declare the day as a celebration of one’s mother tongue, but this was the day in 1952 when the proud sons of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) laid down their lives to trigger the historic “Bhasha Andolan” (Language Movement) that later fuelled the liberation movement of the nation.

Immediately after Pakistan got its Independence, it faced a serious challenge of selecting a State language. Urdu was an obvious choice as both Pakistan’s “founding father” Mohammed Ali Jinnah and scholars felt the language to have the repute of being the cultural symbol of all the Muslims living in the Indian sub-continent.  But what about East Pakistan (Bangladesh) ? Miles apart and culturally different, Urdu was literally forced upon the people. Moreover, people in East Pakistan spoke “Bangla” and considered Urdu as a language of the elite as it was spoken merely by 7 per cent of the population in their territory.

The language imbroglio took a serious turn in the beginning of 1952. In the absence of

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stalwarts like Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, newly-appointed Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin was not in position to address the issue as people of East Bengal were critical about the anti-Bengali policy of the Punjabi and Mohajir dominated ruling class.

Nazimuddin, however, declared in the Dhaka session of the ruling Muslim League party on 27 January 1952  at the Paltan Maidan that “Urdu will be the state language of Pakistan”. He also stated that Bangla will be written in Arabic script.

On 21st February, the world witnessed the barbaric atrocities by a government force on peaceful demonstration by “language martyrs”.  At around nine o’clock in the morning, students began gathering at the Dhaka University premises in defiance of Section 144.  A clarion call of peaceful defiance with the chanting of “moder gorbo, moder aasha, a’mori Bangla bhasha“(our pride, our hope, our Bengali language) was met with indiscriminate firing from the Pakistani police. A number of students were killed but Abdus Salam, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Rafiq Uddin and many others kept living in the hearts of the people to trigger a mass uprising that ultimately brought freedom to Bangladesh in 1971. The firing might have silenced the mortal voice, but it failed to curb the legacy of the language.

The language movement was something more than just a fight or a movement. It was not merely a fight to uphold the relevance of a language that was over 1,000 years old but it was a fight for one’s own identity, a fight for social and economic justice. It was a battle against the state powers taken up by ordinary innocent people sans weapons so that the future generation can have an identity. It was a bout against the tyranny to talk, laugh, love, cry, dream and quarrel in one’s mother tongue, a fight not to give in to the measures that usurps one own mother tongue.

There are over 6,900 living languages in the world and Bangla is the 6th most spoken language with nearly 300 million speakers in the Indian subcontinent alone. It is spoken by three times more people than Urdu.

মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মাগো তোমার কোলে, তোমার বোলে, কতই শান্তি ভালবাসা !
মাগো তোমার কোলে, তোমার বোলে, কতই শান্তি ভালবাসা !
আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !

কি যাদু বাংলা গানে- গান গেয়ে দাঁড় মাঝি টানে,

কি যাদু বাংলা গানে- গান গেয়ে দাঁড় মাঝি টানে,
গেয়ে গান নাচে বাউল-

গেয়ে গান নাচে বাউল- গান গেয়ে ধান কাটে চাষা।
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !

বিদ্যাপতি, চণ্ডী, গোবিন, হেম, মধু, বঙ্কিম, নবীন-
বিদ্যাপতি, চণ্ডী, গোবিন, হেম, মধু, বঙ্কিম, নবীন-
ঐ ফুলেরি মধুর রসে,
ঐ ফুলেরি মধুর রসে, বাঁধলো সুখে মধুর বাসা ।
আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !

বাজিয়ে রবি তোমার বীণে, আনলো মালা জগৎ জিনে-
বাজিয়ে রবি তোমার বীণে, আনলো মালা জগৎ জিনে-
তোমার চরণ-তীর্থে –

মাগো তোমার চরণ-তীর্থে – আজি, জগৎ করে যাওয়া-আসা
আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !

ওই ভাষাতেই প্রথম বোলে ডাকনু মায়ে মা, মা বলে
ওই ভাষাতেই প্রথম বোলে ডাকনু মায়ে মা, মা বলে
ওই ভাষাতেই বলবো হরি, সাঙ্গ হলে কাঁদা-হাসা

আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মোদের গরব, মোদের আশা, আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !
মাগো তোমার কোলে, তোমার বোলে, কতই শান্তি ভালবাসা !
মাগো তোমার কোলে, তোমার বোলে, কতই শান্তি ভালবাসা !
আ মরি বাংলা ভাষা !

-অতুলপ্রসাদ সেন

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