Nation observes Amar Ekushey

February 21, 2009

Staff Correspondent

The president, Zillur Rahman, left, and the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, stand in silence after placing wreaths at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka midnight past Friday. — Sanaul Haque

The president, Zillur Rahman, left, and the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, stand in silence after placing wreaths at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka midnight past Friday. — Sanaul Haque

The nation paid homage to the martyrs of the language movement midnight past Friday, with thousand of people streaming barefooted along the roads towards shaheed minars with wreaths and flowers.
The president, Zillur Rahman, in Dhaka, first placed a wreath at the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar on the campus of Dhaka University a minute past midnight, followed by the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Hasina, along with the council of ministers, advisers, lawmkers and her sister Sheikh Rehana, placed one more wreath on behalf of the ruling Awami League.
The Jatiya Sangsad speaker, Abdul Hamid, and the deputy speaker, Shawkat Ali Chowdhury, then placed wreaths. They were followed by the chief whip, Abdush Shahid, and the Dhaka mayor, Sadeque Hossain Khoka.
The chiefs of the three services, General Moeen U Ahmed, Rear Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed, and Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman, then placed wreaths followed by the attorney general, Mahbubey Alam. The sector commanders of the war of independence, under the banner of the Sector Commanders’ Forum, then placed a wreath.
Members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of the UN organisations also placed wreaths, followed by the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, AAMS Arefin Siddique.
The Awami Juba League placed wreaths after the vice-chancellor followed by journalist Nirmal Sen.
The BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, followed Nirmal in placing wreaths along with the party’s secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain and other leaders.
They placed wreaths as Amar Bhaiyer Rake Rangano Ekushey February was sung and stood in silence for a few seconds at the monument altar in honour of Salam, Barkat, Rafiq and Jabbar who were killed in police firing on this day in 1952 when they, along with others, campaigned for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of Pakistan. The incident later culminated into the war of independence in 1971.
Ekushey February, formally Shaheed Dibas or Martyrs’ Day, has also been observed as International Mother Language Day every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism after a proclamation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s general conference in November 1999.
The president, prime minister and leader of the opposition issued messages on the occasion.
The president in a message said the spirit of nationalism which emanated from the language movement inspired the nation towards attaining sovereignty and thus ‘we achieved our long-cherished independence in 1971.’
‘The glaring spirit of the language movement inspires us to stand against all injustice and unfairness,’ Zillur said.
The prime minister, in her message, said February 21 is a rare heroic saga in the history of the world, which is now not only part of the tradition and spirit of the Bengalis, but also an eternal source of inspiration to materialise the just causes of the people across the world.
‘At this crucial juncture of transition to democracy,’ Hasina urged the countrymen to participate in nation-building activities being imbued with the spirit of the language movement.
The leader of the opposition, in her message, said, ‘The day reminds us of the national responsibility and obligations.’
‘We all should contribute from our positions towards developing and flourishing our Bangla language, literature and culture,’ Khaleda said.
Security was heightened at and around the Central Shaheed Minar for the Ekushey observance with an increased deployment of law enforcers.
The University of Dhaka supervised the Amar Ekushey observance as it did in the past.
The day is a public holiday. The national flag has been hoisted at half mast atop government, autonomous and private buildings and educational institutions.
Various government, non-government, socio-cultural and political organisations have chalked up elaborate programmes to mark the day.
The Awami League’s programmes for the day include placing flowers at the Central Shaheed Minar just after midnight, hoisting the national and party flags at half mast in all offices of the Awami League and its associate bodies and Bangabandhu Bhaban, and hoisting black flag at 6:30am.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s programmes include placing flowers at the Shaheed Minar at 6:00am and a discussion at the Institution of Engineers on Friday.
The Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy will hold a discussion in the National Theatre Hall auditorium at 5:00pm today.
The Dhaka Club will inaugurate newly built shaheed minar on the club premises at 8:00am and hold a discussion at 8:30pm.
The Nazrul Academy will hold discussion in the academy building at 5:30pm.

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