Its a first few paragraphs of the upcoming narrative named~My Hero of the Millennium~.There in the treatise , with my friends, kith and kin ,kids and grand kids, cousins and grand cousins,nieces and grand nieces; and with Tom Dick and Harry; and with all and sundry foes, I am going to share my childhood memory in a personal note . Initially some tranquil moments of mourn and grief with language martyr Barkat’s grieved parents at the solitude of Azimpur Graveyard . It was in commemoration of the Language martyrs slain on 21-22 February 1952. In the background ,my childhood image is shown here in a rare picture of Martyrs Day observance on 21 February 1953. I took to the burial ground , where martyrs of the historic Bengali language movement were laid to eternal rest. I leaped with my little friends , in a bare footed silent mourning procession. We wore black badges. We paraded black flags. We carried rings of floral wreath made by some professional gardener. We collected assorted flowers from nursery by solicitation and from neighborhood`s private front yard and back yard gardens, by pilferage .Early we set out at dawn from our alma mater, West End High school, Dhaka, Bangladesh. It still stands, not very far from the burial ground.
On 21 February police brutally killed , 1.Abul Barkat son of Shamsuddin Ahmed and Hasina Begum originally of Bhorotpur,Murshidabad, West Bengal;2.Rafiquddin , son of Abdul Laif of Manikganj, Dhaka; 3.Abdul Jabbar , son of Abdul Qader of Gaforgaon, Mymensing . All those three martyrs were presumably students,but details of their engagements , I never found .4. A Government employee Abdus Salam,son of Fazil Mia of Lokkhonpur, Feni received severe multiple injuries as police fired several shots on him . He had critically survived under a desperate Medical care and then on the 45 the day he succumbed to his unhealed wounds.
In the afternoon of that fateful day,(21 February 1952)frenzied students and the infuriated members of the indignant public moved with urgent haste and rushed in unruly anger towards the East Bengal Legislative Assembly to lodge protest and place demand appropriate punitive measures against the culprits who commanded the police atrocity and precluded a democratic agitation. SP Elice ordered and Muslim League Chief Minister Nurul Amin endorsed, it was categorically alleged. Angry people demanded their ouster and immediate trial. Leaders urged upon the embroiled mob to stay innocuous and shun violence .
The House was in session at its old building located at the site now called the Jagannath Hall .The mob was halted by police at a safe distance .But their roars and howling transcended the barbaric barricade and swelled in an earnest appeal for justice to the slumbering conscience of the people’s representatives. Some law makers quickly responded to the wake up call. The Daily Azad Editor Abul Kalam Shamsuddin instantly resigned. Including Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish some other law makers threatened resignation.Progressives and liberals including Hindu Congress members , who were polarized against the treasury bench, rose in anger . They roared vehement protest. They strongly condemned Governments despotic action for suppressing a democratic movement. But the Chief Minister declined the adjournment motion. The house plunged into pandemonium and ended in fiasco.
Earlier in the fore noon I moved to the DMCH emergency word having been traumatized by the scary tear gas infliction . I sequeled others who fled the invaded meeting place around Modhu`s Canteen and the students` Union office .Everybody ran for safety. Barbaric Police action slammed on the radical gathering immediately after the historic sermon for law disobedience was pronounced . There occurred a frenzied haste for flee.. The deserted DUCSU and Medical College Hospital area was cordoned by the armed Police Battalion .
The Sun was direct on the head , shining and scorching vigorously, but blotted out by low storm clouds, the heat was not burning. Northern wind was still blowing gently bidding adieu to the outgoing winter . Nevertheless, it made me drenched in unusual perspiration. Hospital yard fell into a scary silence. I was panting . I felt shivered. I heard mur mur in my heart. I was bewildered. Staying stunned and baffled on the road facing large balcony, I stared blankly on the solitary main road . Pretty soon , as I peered on the front street, I gazed that , aged over thirty, an innocent tardy guy , ostensibly a squalid, dejected daily labor, crumbled on the black tarred road.He fell victim fatally ,of a brutal unprovoked police shooting . It was a spree, like bird hunting . The helpless stranger tumbled nose down. A thin blood stream roled quietly .The huge hospital clock sruck 1 pm .It preceeded the horrendous atrocity that befell Barkat . A barrage of bullets had brutally blown martyr salam`s scull.Victims brain sprayed thick blood over the mother soil. Staying at the upward stair way inside the emergency block , I watched senior students conducted severely injured and profusely bleeding Barkat and lifeless Salam to the hospital emergency room.
The unknown victim should have been hospitalized dead or alive, for humanity`s sake . But to my utter surprise , a running armed Police lorry had seized the blood dipped lifeless human corpse .The heartless and soul less cops dragged a human body like a street dog. In a high speed those uncanny hordes fled the place of occurrence. Never this cruel killing was referred to an official report .Never was the victim named or added to the list of martyrs. It however was obliquely mentioned in some private accounts that a few strangers were killed at different places unnoticed and the tyrant law enforcers grabbed them untraceable.
On the very next mournful day,22 February ‘52 , police opened random fire on a procession of the Supreme Court employees and commoners . At Nawabpur main street they were parading black flags and roaring in protest against the police atrocity.A law student cum supreme Court staff ,Shafiur Rahman and another stranger Ohiullah fell fatally victim of the indiscriminate shooting . In quick succession , unidentified Abdul Awal was run over horrifically by a police lorry. He was dead right then . Last but not the least, an impoverished , 12 year old, anonymous helpless street boy was horrendously torn and killed by the barrage of bullets at Bangshal road near Nawabpur as another protest rally paraded black flags over there.Police force became fiends. And they retaliated fiercely against sporadic brick chips and stone hurling by the angry mob.Ruthless Cops had grabbed most of the bodies and reportedly buried them in mass graves without any ritual at the small hours under curfew .
The mourning march turned into a resentment rally of the groaning indignant masses.They became unruly . Impatiently they demanded Bengali state language. Crazily howled for killer Chief Minister Nurul Amin`s ouster from power and his immediate trial for the cold blood homicide.~Hang Nurul Amin-Hang the killer~ they cried in fury .The masses roared bitter abhorrence and desperate contempt raising their arms and fist in utter disapproval of the carnage.Significantly enough, thousands of local residents and natives of old Dhaka came out in violent protest and condemnation against the dastardly killings.
Natives of old Dhaka until then, were grossly reluctant to endorse Bengali State Language demand.They stayed away from the movement. Loyalists mostly thought the movement was unfancied.Many had even taunted and caricatured , Responding to the official condemnation and malicious propaganda some guys scolded, ridiculed and abused participants and protogonistas as stooges and slaves of Hindus. Some even called activists Indian agents because the constitutional amendment was moved and seconded by non Muslim law makers. Aboriginal inhabitants of urban Dhaka were proud of the former Chief Minister Sir Nazimuddin and his predecessor, Muslim league founder Nawab Khawaja Sir Salimullah, whom they bore as glory. As a mark of solidarity with Nazimuddin they had denounced the demand for Bengali State language. They stood rather unabashedly in support of Urdu. Moreover aborigine natives were yet to be disillusioned about the charismatic Jinnah . They stayed still glued with his obsequious influence. They hung around his concept of the so called separate homeland for Indian Muslims.That infatuating impetuous concept formed the basis of the infamous two nation theory, which was the bed rock of Pakistan’s creation.These natives spoke, like Calcatians, a cocktail of Urdu and Bengali colloquials at home and at their social interaction.Moreover,they believed that their ancestors were the rulers of the sub-continent and they were their blood connection. All those myths, however, had fallen on the hard rock of cruelty on 21-22 February after the police firing flung martyrdom on the brave sons of the soil. Loyalists turned rebels. They rose massively indignant in a great anger. Members of the minority community hitherto been silent shy and scared , also shook off reluctance and came out openly to express solidarity with the movemrnt.The Government was sensitive about the minority participation in the state language movement from the beginning .In a bid to isolate non muslims from the language movement the Government renewed communal persecution. Members of the minority community were rampaged by instigated fresh violence in 1950.Thousands were evicted from hearth and forced to flee home.Ten thousand left workers migrated to West Bengal to skip extinction.
The language movement thus slipped out from the fold of he student community and assumed largely a character of peoples’ struggle for emancipation from cultural slavery which eventually formed the basis of struggle for economic and political liberation .The working class majority was polarized with the tumultuous movement. Industrial labors , peasants and the toiling masses had exposed their solidarity.The most significant and distinguished feature of the peoples unity was its non communal character and secular orientation. An onslaught on the mother tongue healed the fracture inflicted by communal fratricide, over ages ,since the white horse mounted invader Bakhtiar Khiljii occupied Bengal and Bihar.
The gap was bridged.Initially law maker Dhirendranath Dutta sought a legislative recognition of mother tounge Bangla as the State Languuage of Pakistan.He proposed it to be coupled with Urdu. Purporting to uphold the mother tongue of 44 million Bengali speaking people living in East Bengal comprising about 54 percent of the total population of the Dominion, he moved an amendment to an official bill. Minority member Srish Chandra Chaterji, Bhupendra kumar Dutta and Hemhori Barma supported the move .Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan Slammed NO.He stubbornly defended Government`s obsessive stand saying,~ Hundred million Muslims in the sub continent speak Urdu. Urdu can be the only language which can keep the people of East Bengal of the Eastern Zone and the people of western zone together.It is necessary for the nation to have one language. On February 24 , 1948 the treasury bench introduced a bill, in the Constituent Assembly, to amend Indian 1935 Act about the official language. During the advent of British colonial rule English was thrust as the Royal language and then it was made Official Language of India. It removed Farsi, which was the official language of the Moghuls until 1757 British invasion of Bengal . Subsequently when the entire sub continent fell to the British subservience, English became State language of British India. The new rulers of the Pakistan Dominion basically wanted to install Urdu as the parallel state language alongside the colonial language to serve their neocolonial interest. It would obliterate Bengali language from all national affairs. Although Bengali language was accommodated as subsidiary language in the state affairs ,in 1835, it was not recognized as medium of higher education, or the state language.Until 1937-38 English was compulsory even for School Final examination. It left no secondary option for the mother tongue of the natives. Language was the instrument of subjugation in both Moghul rule and the British period.
Eminent Indian Poet Sir Mohammad Iqbal had conceived in his philosophy , a pure Islamic Nation . He abbreviated P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N’, as nomenclature of a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims. The new state which he had conceived of would comprise Muslim majority contiguous regions. In his concept there was no place of Bengal. It encompassed Panjab, Afganistan, Kashmir,Indus basin of Sind and Beluchistan. His composition would make a viable state in all respect , economically ,politically and also from cultural point of view. Islam as a common religion would serve as an adhesive factor. Differences of language would be bridged by Urdu which had espoused Arabic letters in the alphabet. As a whole a homogeneity would be brought and a consolidation fixed. Sir Mohammad Iqbal was Mr. Jinnah`s friend philosopher and guide. His thoughts and ideas matched the British concept and the perspective plannings of clamping a neocolonial subjugation on the Indian sub continent in the post independence period.. New rulers in the Pakistan dominion wanted to amend 1935 Indian Act in such a way that it would prepare Urdu to replace English in administration in couse of time. Gradually Urdu language would become the only medium of education too. It was means to an end .The approach was not benign.
The fire was lit as the amendment of Dhirendranath was denied. The Government called it a Hindu intrigue out to disintegrate the national fusion .A vigorous propaganda in Goeble`s fashion was launched. But Muslim sages of Bengali language and literature including legendary academician Dr. Mohammad Shahidullah spelled out the sour truth. He insisted eloquently that, ~“We are Bangalee first, then a Muslim and a Hindu’”.We are categorized as Bangalee by our language first and then we are sorted as Muslims by our beard and as Hindu by ‘ hair tail on our head .We are branded ’as Muslim and Hindu by our separate attire.‘These all are customary fashions which could be shed.But Bangla language is our blood which could only be spilled for a cause, but could never be abandoned or discarded under any circumstances. We cann`t trade our mother tongue.~Such a strong resistance echoed and orchestrated by the intelligentials, cultural activists and educationists had largely diffused Government propaganda impact in the members of the public.
. In this narrative ,I have already mentioned about my involvent in the phenomenons of February 21, 1953.I was then hardly 13 year old . I wore half sleeve shirt and shorts . About a month back I was promoted to the seventh class in the high school. It was another memorable occasion . .We observed the Martyrs Day , in commemoration. We paid tributes and homage, prayed for the salvation of the departed souls’ I, along with my Young Turks` took the large mourning procession to Dhaka Medical College yard . Martyrs Memorial Monument`s (Shaheed Minar) foundation rock was being dug in there. The procession swelled into a vast rally with Martyr Barkat`s parents at the head of it . Reaching the venue of maryrs memorial congregation , we merged with the countless masses who converged there to express their solidarity . The monument, of national pride and immense grief , would be erected exactly on the spot where our valiant language worriers were relented by the barrage of bullets .It would be the ‘Light House for the future caravan of our liberation struggle.
The great leader of the toiling masses, Awami Muslim League’ President Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and the heart throb icon of the Youth Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ,then the Joint General Secretary of AML, put hands together in laying the foundation. They a ddressed the mourning congregation by fire tongue speeches to imbibe people with the significance and spirit of martyrs` life lending sacrifices to our cause of cultural emancipation. Both leaders insisted ib was just released , that the cultural subjugation and political domination were itertwined. Sheikh Muj a bit earlier, from the jail custody . The event was followed by a big procession. My tiny Battalion moved to the head , at a brief distance. We escorted the procession with black flags . We raised full throat slogans. Moulana Bhashani blew holy muttering on my head . Sheikh Mujib in great affection slapped on my chic and he patted on my back shoulder as I inadvertantly reversed the slogan to ,~Bangla Bhasha Rashtro Chai.~Let there be a Bengali State~ “It’s too early, he whispered. It was weird . It was too early for me to know and understand the meaning and significance of a Nation State sort of thing. That was , however, the greatest memory of the day, I shall never forget.
The procession culminated in a human sea at the Armanitola meeting ground situated at the heart of the historic Dhaka city .It swelled to an overwhelming mass upsurge.Thousands of people thronged. The congregation ground was over flooded. Entire vicinity turned into a human ocean. It embroiled in turbulence and in fury. Angry masses roared and howled .A havoc of anarchy could be wrought if they broke in violence for vengeance.
But the fury was contained. Leader of the oppressed masses Moulana Bhashani clinched their confidence and hypnotized them .He firmly vowed for a struggle unto death for realization of the peoples’ demands which loomed large beyond cultural emancipation to economic freedom, intertwined with political liberty. He threatened the establishment of a severe consequence if martyrs dream was not fulfilled. He assured in thunderous voice that the sacrifices of the martyrs would not go in vain. The rebel Moulana challenged the the ruling Party to shop confidence of the people in a fresh election before it was too late. An early fixed polls would restore peace in the country, he asserted.
The rising tiger Sheikh Mujibur Rahman urged people to stay innocuous and get prepared for a greater movement if the polls were not dated earlier.”~We must make it a ballot revolution. Through ballots we must render befitting reply against bullets.. We must infringe bondage of slavery flung by the autocratic rulers in a colonial design. We must clinch political and constitutional liberty. We must keep our heads high.Cultural enslavement leads to political subjugation, we must remember. We must keep going in an innoquous manner and keep going steadily until we anchor on the shore of perpetual liberty and freedom.~ Blood spilling by martyrs must not go in vain he emotionally stressed and vibrantly called for greater sacrifices for accomplishing the unfulfilled dream of the language martyrs. ‘We have revoked the wall of communal hatred and bifurcation, he claimed.
My Hero shaped the first secular revolution of th region which eventually yielded a secular Bangladesh Republic through the triumphal liberation war. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman inaugurated the Begali language movement in 1948.It transcended the boundary of a mere movement and descended in the epic which ~poet of politics~ wrote on March seven 1971 at the Race course ground now converted to Suhrawardy Uddyan. He called for the revolutionary struggle for Independence and economic emancipation. At his wake up call the slumbering nation woke up and spilled blood for Independence. Three million Hindus and Muslims , Buddhist and Christians laid down their lives. Nearly half a million women were defiled by the hordes of the occupation army.It was one of the greatest Secular upheaval of the world. Once about a million years back Muslim invaders flung religious barriers and perpetrated fratricidal blood
letting. The colonial rulers divided India into several religious creed to perpetuate despotic exploitation . Mujib , my Hero healed the fracture .My Hero bridged the gap . He made the hibernating Vesuvius vibrate and explode. A new Nation was born.
Author :Bhasha Shainik –Freedom fighter & columnist.Fremont California.10 February,2018