Saturday, April 11, 2020 | ePaper

21 February should be celebration of free speech

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THE historic Amtala, where Language Movement activists gathered on February 21, 1952 to defy a curfew and protest the then Pakistan government's refusal to recognise Bangla as one of the State languages of Pakistan is covered by encroachers.
Pakistan government was ultimately compelled to include an article in the country's Constitution on February 29, 1956 that declared, "The State languages of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali." However, Ekushey did not end there; it rather planted the seed of freedom in the hearts of Bangalis and 19 years after the Language Movement, an independent country named Bangladesh was born. In 1999, UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the sacrifice of our Language Martyrs.
But what is the real significance of the day? Just as the historic Amtala has been encroached by hawkers, so too has our culture been encroached upon. Hatred against other languages is not love of one's language. It is a very narrow view of ignorant leadership to think that the significance of the language movement lies in making Bangla as one of the national languages or shunning learning other languages useful in modern world. The fight was for free speech which cannot be denied as not recognising Bangla as a national language.
Those who can improve Bangla language and literature should prove their ability in the world outside. We are Bengali and speak Bangla as mother tongue. We do not need to tell us how to respect Bangla. They should be ashamed for their ignorance. By ignoring English language we cannot remain isolated from the wealth of world knowledge and the need for international communication.

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