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Language Movement

The Language Movement was a political movement in the erstwhile East Pakistan in 1952. After the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the West Pakistani rulers intended to make Urdu (spoken mostly in West Pakistan) the national language of the whole Pakistan. The Bengali population, which was an ethnic majority in erstwhile Pakistan, was not in agreement with this and started a movement to provide equal status for their own language, Bangla. The matter worsened in February, 1952 when Khwaza Nazimuddin, governor of East Pakistan, reiterated the government position on the national language.

Police declared Section 144 which banned any sort of meeting. Defying this, the students of Dhaka University and other political activists started a procession in February 21, 1952. Near the current Dhaka Medical College Hospital, police fired on the protesters and numerous people, including Abdus Salam, Rafique, Barkat, Jabbar died.

The movement spread to the whole of East Pakistan and the whole province came to a standstill. Afterwards, the Government of Pakistan relented and gave equal status to Bangla.

This movement is thought to sow the seeds for the independence movement which resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh[1] in 1971.

To commemorate this movement, Shaheed Minar, a solemn and symbolic sculpture was erected in the place of the massacre. The day is remembered as the Language Movement Day in Bangladesh and is a national holiday.

Recently, February 21 has also been declared as the International Mother Language Day [2] by the United Nations.

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