West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banrejee on Thursday extended wishes on the occasion of International Mother Language Day. United Nations had declared February 21 as the International Mother Language Day in 2000 recognising the supreme sacrifice made by the ‘language martyrs’ of erstwhile East Pakistan for the cause of getting recognition for Bangla as their official language way back in 1952.
February 21 is observed as Bhasha Dibas or ‘language day’ in West Bengal, Shahid Dibas in Bangladesh.
“Best wishes to all on International Mother Language Day. Respect all languages but take pride in your mother tongue,” Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Thursday.
Best wishes to all on International Mother Language Day. Respect all languages but take pride in your mother tongue
সকলকে জানাই আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবসের শুভেচ্ছা। সব ভাষাকেই সম্মান জানানো উচিত, কিন্তু মাতৃভাষাকে ভালোবাসতেই হবে pic.twitter.com/5nUfnvxqtx
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) February 20, 2019
She also paid floral tributes to the martyrs.
Several events have been planned across West Bengal to mark the day.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and several other leaders also posted messages on Twitter and Facebook to wish people on the occasion.
Greetings on International Mother Language Day. Let us take a pledge to promote linguistic and cultural diversity while preserving and propagating our respective mother tongues
— VicePresidentOfIndia (@VPSecretariat) February 21, 2019
When a language disappears, it takes with it an entire cultural & intellectual heritage. On Thursday’s #MotherLanguageDay, @UNESCO stresses the importance of the preservation of #IndigenousLanguages. https://t.co/8DyBnfibet pic.twitter.com/TldWSHXZ3p
— United Nations (@UN) February 21, 2019
“আমার ভাইয়ের রক্তে রাঙানো একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারি, আমি কি ভুলিতে পারি!”
ভাষা আন্দোলনের শহীদদের শ্রদ্ধার্ঘ্য। সকলকে জানাই আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবসের শুভেচ্ছা। pic.twitter.com/KNnrw3ITGZ
— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) February 21, 2019
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) February 21, 2019
It’s #MotherLanguageDay ❤️
This is what happened when we asked kids to teach us Bangla! pic.twitter.com/DHPWQSzqDD
— UNICEF Bangladesh (@UNICEFBD) February 21, 2019
History of Bhasha Divas
The Language Movement or Bhasha Andolon was a political movement in erstwhile East Bengal, which fought for recognition of Bangla as an official language of East Pakistan. After Independence in 1947, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan has in 1948 ordained Urdu as the only national language, which led to widespread protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan. Facing mass discontent with the new law and rising protests, the Bangladesh government had outlawed public meetings and rallies, imposing Section 144. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952, when police killed at least four student demonstrators. The killings provoked civil unrest, and things never got back to normal. After years of conflict, Pakistan relented and granted official status to Bangla in 1956. The Bengali nationalism born of the movement eventually led to freedom from Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh.