February 21, 2014
WB CM pays tribute to Bhasha Shahids on the occasion of Antorjatik Matri Bhasha Dibas
West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee attended a special programme organized on the solemn occasion of International Mother Languages Day at Deshapriya Park in Kolkata. She paid tributes to the martyrs of the Ekushe February Bhasha Andolan at the Bhasa Smriti Mancha monument at the venue.
After the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. However, there was economic, cultural and lingual friction between East and West Pakistan.
These tensions were apparent in 1948 when Pakistan's government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests among the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests, but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest.
Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and Salam. This day is observed solemnly as `Amar Ekush` or `Ekushey Febryary`. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.
On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 to be International Mother Language Day and it was first observed on February 21, 2000. After coming to power in 2011, the Trinamool Government set up the Bhasha Smriti Mancha and organises cultural events to mark the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that we must respect all languages and stressed on the culture of tolerance. Laying importance on one's mother language is very important, and that's why the West Bengal Government has accorded second language status to Nepali, Al Chiki, Urdu, Gurmukhi and Hindi, commented WB CM.
Quoting Tagore, she said that Bengal has learnt the culture of tolerance from Rabindranath. She added that the Government was planning to construct a 21 February memorial at Rabindra Sadan complex.