The 1952 Bangladesh Language Movement is one of the most controversial events in Bangladesh, as far as the history of this country is concerned. During this movement, current Bangladesh was called East Pakistan. This movement aimed to force the then Dominion of Pakistan to recognize the Bengali language and use it for official communications (Baxter & Rahman, 2010). For instance, the movement championed for the use of Bengali in the education system. Besides, the constitution of this nation was to be in the Bengali language. Moreover, this language was to be used by the media; the currency and stamps were to bear contents written in Bengali. In 1947, the partition of India took place. Realistically, after the separation, East Pakistan seemed to have its largest population made up of the Bengali speakers. Therefore, Bengali speakers who are in East Pakistan became assured that their language could become the sole language of their new nation. Surprisingly, their expectations did not materialize since the Dominion of Pakistan government announced that the Urdu language would be the official mode of communication in all administrative processes and functions. The East Bengali community, which was primarily characterized by the Bengali-speaking community members, did not get amused by the declaration. They, therefore, initiated protests in their expression of dissatisfaction with the decision by the government. The uprisings became so intense that the Dominion of Pakistan government got shaken and alarmed. Therefore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah ordered the police to quell the rebellion by declaring all demonstrations illegal (Baxter & Rahman, 2010). Public gatherings, meetings, and rallies were also declared unlawful. Any person who engaged in such activities met the full force of the law as well as police brutality.
Despite the demonstrations being declared illegal, the Bengal population did not relent. Students of Dhaka University, for instance, staged a massive strike on the twenty-first day of February 1952. The government remained firm on this issue, and it elected to confront the demonstrating university students. The confrontation led to the death of many students, and others sustained severe injuries that ended up maimed. These acts by the government agencies did not augur well with the civilians who engaged in full swing civil unrest. The unrest led to more deaths as people got involved in strive with the police and other agents of the government. Apart from that, a lot of property got destroyed for a long period of strive. The government seemed determined to maintain its status quo with regards to the declaration on the language, but people were overwhelmingly determined to change it. Pressure mounted from within and outside the country to the extent of convincing the government to change the decision by granting the Bengali language the status of a national language. This event occurred after some years of struggle. In 1956, the government made Bengali a national language. The Language Movement of Bangladeshi was so enormous that it did affect not only this country but also the entire globe. In East Pakistan (current Bangladeshi), this movement served as a basis for the formation of other campaigns aimed at fighting for special rights in the country. It is worth noting that the Bangladeshi Liberation emerged from the occurrences of this movement (Baxter & Rahman, 2010). Due to the loss of life and property destruction, the Bangladeshi government commemorates this day as the Language Movement Day. Outside this country, the 21st day of February is recognized as the International Mother Language Day, which became official on the United Nations calendar in the year 1999 after its recognition and declaration by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). I chose this topic because it does not only affect Bangladesh as a nation but also the entire world. The activities related to the movement led to the establishment of an essential day in the world as well as Bangladesh. Apart from that, I harbor a keen interest in the historical and current affairs of Bangladesh. As a result, I feel the satisfaction that comes with the comprehension of Bangladesh history.
Having narrated a brief background of the events that surrounded the 1952 Bangladesh Language Movement, I take this opportunity to describe the situation as it were during this movement. I take the persona of a Bangladesh citizen of the Bengali group of native speakers. The years in which the activities of the movement take place are between 1947 and 1956. I am an adult, and therefore, I understand all the events that occurred during this movement. In 1947, the British colony partitioned India into two distinct dominions, which were India and Pakistan. The population of the newly formed dominion of Pakistan has a national population of 69 million people. Out of this number, 44 million people, who make the majority of this nation, are of Bengali ethnic community. The remaining group is made up of the whites, the Urdu and a few small communities within the dominion of Pakistan. As revealed in the previous paragraphs, the eastern part of the territory of Pakistan is inhabited by the majority Bengali speakers, while the western wing of this dominion is full of the minority groups. I am a Bengali speaker, and I live in Dhaka city. My parents are of Bengali origin who immigrated to Dhaka city in search of employment. I just graduated from the University of Dhaka in the year 1948, and I understand all my rights and responsibilities as a citizen of the newly formed dominion. Having been a student of political science, I fully understand the constitution of our land and specifically know about sharing of the national resources. In this case, the language is a resource whereby the equitable distribution of this resource is of considerable significance. Unfortunately, the government is not ready to offer equitable distribution of the language as a resource. Instead, the government is forcing on us the Urdu language, which is less prevalent in the dominion. According to my understanding of political science, any nation that seeks stability must be ready to use a language that is popular among its people. Such a language fosters secure communication and interactions among citizens. Unfortunately, the government is not prepared to adhere to the fact mentioned above. The primary reason that influences the government to be rigid in making Bengali the national language is the presence of high profile people of immense influence in the government, whose ethnicity is Urdu. For instance, the heads of the military and police department are from Urdu. Most government ministers also come from this minority community. As a result, they formulate the policies of the government that incline towards their ethnic community. Language policy, therefore, sails through with ease since the influential personalities of the Urdu community automatically consent to have Urdu as the national language at the expense of the Bengali majority language. As a knowledgeable person, I do not like the ethnicity or nepotism that characterizes the dominion of Pakistan government.
In 1947, there was a massive rally which the government hosted in Karachi. The purpose of the rally was to make a declaration as to the language that would henceforth get used in all governmental institutions. I remember it was on a Friday when we flocked the Gardens of Karachi Park. The excitement of people was extremely high since they expected the obvious to happen. The crowd was made up of Bengalis and Urdus, yet they all expected Bengali language to be declared the national language. I had friends from the Urdu community who had accompanied me. They kept praising me as they also lauded my community for providing the national language. In other words, every individual was aware that the national language was going to be Bengali. The event started well with entertainment until when the speaker made the declaration. To everybody's surprise, the speaker averred that the official national language would be none other than Urdu. The whole crowd went into a fifteen-second silence before a few spots in the group thronged into a celebratory mood. Those were Urdus. All of a sudden, people started leaving the venue in a depressed mood. I remember my friend of Urdu community asserting that the unexpected happened, and it is their minority group that had to offer the language for use. I was so frustrated since I felt that the government had betrayed not only me but the entire Bengali community, which formed the majority of the population. I could hear people cursing the government and swearing to retaliate against the decision over the formal language of the dominion of Pakistan. As I headed home, I could see many groups of people murmuring in low tones. The groups seemed to be strategizing on something in the offing. I reached home a sad person. My parents asked me what had occurred, and I could not express myself since I was so low in spirit. At night, I could not sleep since I knew that I had a massive task of learning a new language if I were to access various national services in the dominion of Pakistan.
Since I experienced sleepless nights, I could hear endless noises from the adjacent Dhaka University. In the morning, I realized that students had sparked off protests at night in a bid to have the decision of the government over the national language get revoked. Students were chanting against tribalism and nepotism. They claimed that it is impossible for the majority to learn a minority language to access government services. They also rebuked the government for employing people from the same ethnic community. The lack of inclusivity in the dominion of Pakistan government was another complaint by students. I remember my neighbor known as Abul Kashem leading students' demonstrations. Abul was also a leader of an Islamic cultural organization in the Bengali region. The organization is known as Tamaddun Majilish. The students stipulated a meeting, which sought to reverse the declaration by the government. For instance, they resolved that Bengali would be the language for use in East Bengali for all the official and non-official transactions. Initially, the declaration had stated that all operations of the government would get conducted in the Urdu language. Besides, it required all schools to stop teaching the Bengali language. As a result, the Pakistani Public Service Commission scrapped off the Bengali language from stamps and currency notes. The extent at which things were changing from Bengali to the Urdu language further annoyed students who increased the intensity of their demonstrations (Alam, 2016). Education minister quickly ordered to have Urdu as the sole language of the state. Having realized that the government was not ready to listen to them, students, under the leadership of Abul Kashem, staged another meeting held on 8th December 1947. The agenda of the meeting was to organize rallies and processions within the capital in a bid to make Bengali the national language.
The push for Bengali to be the official language was not limited to students alone. Scholars in the Bengali community advocated for Bengali usage in official transactions. In their arguments, scholars warned that the use of Urdu instead of Bengali for state activities would render not only educated members of Bengali community illiterate but also ineligible for any administrative work (Alam, 2016). This reality hit hard the members of this community that some legislators started pushing for the revocation of the government declaration on the issue of the national language. Shamsul Huq, a member of parliament, established a committee th...
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