Language Martyrs’ Day is observed on February 21 every year and is dedicated to honouring the sacrifices of those who fought for their language.
The day is a national holiday in Bangladesh. It is also called Language Movement Day or State Language Day.
The event honours the martyrs of the Bengali language movements. The purpose of the day is to recognise and honour linguistic and cultural diversity.
West Bengal, a state in India that borders Bangladesh, also observes the day. In West Bengal, Shahid Dibash, or Bhasha Dibas as it is often called, enjoys the same level of awe and devotion.
History of Language Martyrs’ Day
The British divided India in 1947, resulting in the creation of the "Dominion of Pakistan," which consisted of two distinct territories to the northwest and northeast of India.
Despite the fact that the bulk of people resided in the eastern part, where Bengali was the primary language, the western-based government had suggested Urdu as the sole state language and that it would be used exclusively in the media and in educational institutions in 1947. In East Pakistan, this action sparked discontent and demonstrations.
Beginning in early 1952, as the demonstrations became more intense, Section 144 of the law was implemented by the government, which forbade any meeting of more than three individuals.
Students at the University of Dhaka started to congregate on February 21, 1952, in defiance of the law. The police detained a number of protesters while enforcing section 144. This infuriated the mob even further, and as the students tried to enter the East Bengal Legislative Assembly building, the police opened fire, killing four protesters.
Bengali was recognised as the second official language of Pakistan on February 29, 1956, as a result of the demonstrations, and the constitution was changed to read "The state languages of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali."
How is Bangladesh Language Martyrs' Day celebrated?
To mark the language movement and the massacre, a symbolic sculpture, Shaheed Minar (Martyrs' Monument), was erected in the place of the massacre.
Flowers are laid in front of the sculpture every February 21 in remembrance of those who gave their lives defending their language and culture.
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