12:00 AM, February 11, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 11, 2013

BPC report rejected

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Syed Badrul Ahsan

The next significant step on the language question came in the aftermath of the report submitted by the Basic Principles Committee to the constituent assembly on 28 September 1950.
The report was unequivocal in stating that Urdu would be the state language of Pakistan. The BPC report immediately came under fire in East Bengal, where demands arose for a refashioning of Pakistan into a confederation in line with the original Lahore Resolution of 1940.
A group of individuals actually began distributing leaflets demanding a confederation. They organised a public meeting at Armanitola Maidan in Dhaka on October 13, 1950. A key speaker at the meeting was Ataur Rahman Khan, later to be chief minister of East Pakistan.
Interestingly, even some figures in the ruling Muslim League, such as the acting general secretary of its provincial outfit, Shah Azizur Rahman (who in 1971 would collaborate with the Yahya regime as the Pakistan army carried out a genocide in occupied Bangladesh and who later would be Bangladesh's prime minister in the Zia regime), and in the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Pakistan, protested the BPC report. Shah Aziz called for protest meetings all over the province, but was soon brought to heel by Moulana Akram Khan, who considered the protests illegal and who saw the personal aggrandisement of many in the anti-BPC agitation.
Meanwhile, the Action Committee for a Democratic Federation met from October 17 to 28, 1950 to chalk out a credible response to the BPC report. Those who attended the meetings of the committee on a regular basis included Ataur Rahman Khan, Tajuddin Ahmed (later to be the man who would form the first government of Bangladesh in Mujibnagar in April 1971), Kamruddin Ahmed, Mohammad Toaha, Oli Ahad and Abdus Salam. Among the irregular attendees were Kafiluddin Chowdhury, Shamsuzzoha and Mirza Golam Hafiz.
The meetings of the committee came to an end through its members' decision to hold a convention on November 4 and 5, 1950. It went into preparing nine questions which it wished to place before prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
A core point among the questions was the demand for autonomy for the provinces of Pakistan with a view to having them run their affairs without interference from the central government.

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