The eternal flame of Ekushey | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:24 PM, February 21, 2019


The eternal flame of Ekushey

May it enlighten our way, always

As we observe the historic occasion when some valiant souls laid down their lives to establish the right of our mother tongue on this day in 1952—the like of which has never been witnessed in history—let us pay our deepest respects to those who made the sacrifices, and recall why the memory of this reverberates even today. What happened on that fateful day in February is not an inert fact, nor mere stuff of legend. It's not even just a symbol of people's linguistic freedom anymore. Because of the circumstances in which it took place and the extraordinary series of events that it set off in the ensuing decades, in Bangladesh and elsewhere, Ekushey shines like a beacon of hope in the midst of darkness, and shows us how to fight against injustices and oppression. Ekushey is proof that when enough people believe in a cause, and unite and persevere in their efforts to make it happen, it happens, eventually.

Which is why it is important that we keep the flame of Ekushey burning, for us today and for posterity. That said, we cannot ignore the fact that the right to mother tongue and all other associated objectives of the Ekushey movement couldn't still be established in the way envisaged by the founders of the movement. For one, Bangla couldn't be established in all spheres of public life; moreover, even though there has been some progress in terms of the rights of linguistic minorities, a lot remains to be done. It is up to the state to ensure that all Bangla and non-Bangla speakers are accorded the same opportunities to use their mother tongue and grow as a people. As well as this, Ekushey also encourages us to strive to establish a society based on freedom, equality and rule of law—without which the right to mother tongue is meaningless.

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