As the nation paid homage to the Language Movement heroes on the International Mother Language Day, people visited the capital's Central Shaheed Minar.
Bare-foot and adorned in black-and-white, they placed floral wreaths at the monument and stood in silent remembrance those who embraced martyrdom to make Bangla the state language in 1952.
To mark the day, different political parties, their front organisations, as well as socio-cultural organisations chalked out programmes. Law enforcement agencies took adequate security measures in and around the Central Shaheed Minar to ensure peaceful observance of the day.
On February 21, 1952, students and people from all walks of life took to the streets in Dhaka to protest the erstwhile Pakistan government's refusal to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages and its imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Police opened fire on the procession, murdering a number of agitators.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital at one minute past midnight, reports UNB.
They proceeded to the altar of the Shaheed Minar together in slow pace as the song on Amar Ekushey-- 'Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February'-- played.
The president was the first to lay a wreath at the Shaheed Minar, after which the PM placed hers.
They stood in solemn silence for a while, as a mark of profound respect for the fallen heroes.
Ministers, advisers to the PM, parliament members, chiefs of the three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, and top civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury paid tribute to the martyrs by placing a wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of the ruling-AL, placed another wreath on behalf of her party, flanked by cabinet members and senior AL leaders.
Meanwhile, the president and the PM issued separate messages on the occasion, the UNB report adds.
In his message, the president said, "I extend my warm congratulations and sincere felicitations to all multilingual people of the world along with Bangla-speaking people."
“On the occasion, let the bond of friendship among multilingual people be strengthened, world's almost defunct languages be revived and the globe be diversified in respective societies.”
The PM, in her message, said the great Ekushey was the symbol of grief, strength and glory in the life of every Bangali.
“I pay my deep homage to the memories of the martyrs. I also pay my deep respect to the greatest Bangali of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who had led the language movement, and all other language veterans,” she said.
“Let's build a hunger- and poverty-free and a happy and prosperous Sonar Bangladesh, as dreamt by the Father of the Nation, with the spirit of the great Ekushey,” the PM added.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Jatiya Party central executive committee placed floral wreaths at the Shaheed Minar altar, says a press release.
Members of the Left Democratic Alliance, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal also paid tribute to the martyrs, say separate releases.
To mark the day, different educational institutions including Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Jagannath University, Begum Rokeya University of Rangpur, North South University, Green University, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, and Bangladesh University of Business and Technology arranged separate programmes -- discussions, blood donations and cultural sessions at their respective campuses, say separate releases.
'AMAR EKUSHEY' AROUND THE GLOBE
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1999 declared February 21 as “International Mother Language Day”, which has been observed globally since then.
According to a UNB report, the House of Representatives of the USA on Tuesday introduced a resolution recognising February 21 as “International Mother Language Day.” The resolution, the report said, supported the goals and ideals of the day and encouraged the people of the US to observe it with appropriate ceremonies, programmes and activities.
Representatives Grace Meng, along with Jim McGovern, Raul Grijalva and Deb Haaland introduced the resolution to bring due attention to the importance of preserving linguistic and cultural heritage through education, the UNB report added.
The Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN and Bangladesh Consulate General in New York jointly arranged a programme to mark the Shaheed Day and the International Mother Language Day, says a press release.
Officials of the mission and the consulate general, as well as expatriate Bangladeshis, paid tribute to the Language Movement heroes by placing floral wreaths at a makeshift Shaheed Minar at the mission office, it says.
The programme started on Wednesday night local time as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Masud Bin Momen welcomed the audience.
A cultural programme comprising recitation, music and dance, and a discussion session was part of the programme.
Bangladesh Embassies in Riyadh, Tokyo, Manila, Hanoi, Tashkent, and Rome, as well as Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Mumbai, also held different programmes in observance of the day, say separate releases.