The nation is paying glowing tribute today to the Language Movement martyrs who laid down their lives for the mother tongue in 1952.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar one minute past zero hours amid tight security as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey 'Amar Bhayer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February' was being played.
Later, opposition leader Raushan Ershad, ministers, attorney general, members of the diplomatic corps, various political, cultural and professional bodies paid tribute to the martyrs one after another.
The Central Shaheed Minar was then opened to all.
Thousands of barefoot people from all strata of life converged on shaheed minar built across the country breaking the silence of the night.
The day is globally being observed as the International Mother Language Day.
Besides, different political parties and their front organisations and various socio-cultural organisations are placing wreaths at the shaheed minar paying their homage to the language martyrs.
Stringent security measures were taken in and around the Central Shaheed Minar on the occasion.
On this day in 1952, students and people from all walk of society took to the streets in Dhaka to protest the then Pakistan government's refusal to recognise Bangla as one of the state languages and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil sacrificed their lives on this day to establish Bangla as one of the state languages of the then Pakistan.
The day has since been observed as the Language Martyrs Day, which the Unesco later declared as the International Mother Language Day.
The 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."
The Language Movement is indeed the most important turning point in the history of Bangalees as its spirit led to the independence of Bangladesh.
On November 17, 1999, the Unesco declared February 21 as the International Mother Language Day. Countries across the globe have been observing the day since then to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education and raise awareness of cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
The Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas have had a facelift on the occasion, and roads and medians have been festooned with Bangla alphabets and the national flag.
The day is a public holiday. The national flag has been hoisted at half-mast atop all government, autonomous and private buildings.
Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and satellite TV channels are airing special programmes.