INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY (21st February)

a writing by Osman Gani

Today is 21st February. On 17th November 1999, UNESCO declared this glorious day as the International Mother Language Day. The day is associated with the language Bengali, which is one of the most-spoken languages of the world now. Bengali is the only language that was established through the sacrifice of blood from language martyrs. They preserved this language from extinction by defying the oppression of mighty forces. In 1948, when the government of Pakistan declared that only language and state language of Pakistan (includes present Pakistan and Bangladesh) will be Urdu, it infuriated the Bengali-speaking Bangladeshis (Then East Pakistan). The announcement was an illogical one as the Bengali-speaking people exceeded the Urdu-speaking people by a huge margin. On 21st February, 1952, Numerous students and common people marched on the road through a peaceful procession breaking the curfew announced by the Pakistan government. The protesters were bearing several placards, banners that displayed their claim for restoring the status of Bengali. Police fired at the marching protesters and numerous students, common people were killed at the spot and the others were captured. The language movement ended in bloodshed but its impact was huge. After nearly 3 years, the language Bengali was restored to its former glory or perhaps to a greater glory. Every year we observe this day in remembrance of the efforts and sacrifice of language fighters who shed their blood to establish a language. This day and the language movement will be paradigm of the significance of every language. May we understand the significance of our mother language and fight for preserving it, glorifying it because if we lose our language, we lose our root, our existence.

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