The supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day 66 years back is being remembered as people in thousands are thronging the Central Shaheed Minar at midnight tonight to pay their glowing tributes to the 1952 language martyrs by placing wreaths at the altar of the monument.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage to the language heroes as they placed wreaths at the Shaheed Minar here at one minute past midnight.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at the Shaheed Minar seven minutes before the clock struck 12 midnight while President Abdul Hamid reached two minutes before the zero hour.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proceeded to the altar of the Central Shaheed Minar together in slow pace as the immortal song on Amar Ekushey--"Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February"-- was playing over the loudspeaker.
The president was the first to lay the wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar. Just after the president, the prime minister placed the wreath at the Shaheed Minar.
They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.
Ministers, advisers to the prime minister, parliament members, chiefs of three services, diplomats, senior Awami League leaders, freedom fighters, and high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
Later, Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Deputy Speaker Fazley Rabbi Mia and Leader of the Opposition Begum Raushan Ershad placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar.
On arrival at the Shaheed Minar, the president was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman.
Flanked by cabinet members and senior leaders of the party, Sheikh Hasina, also the president of Bangladesh Awami League, later placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
The chiefs of the three services and the inspector general of police (IGP) also laid wreaths at the altar of the Shaheed Minar.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JASOD) President and Information Minister and Hasanul Haq Inu placed a wreath.
Later, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, Dhaka University Teachers' Association, Sector Commanders Forum, war-wounded freedom fighters of the 1971 Liberation War, different political parties and socio-cultural organisations paid their homage.
A group of Indian journalists from Kolkata and New Delhi, who are participating in a three-day Bangladesh-India media dialogue here coinciding with the International Mother Language Day 2018, also paid tributes to the language heroes by placing a wreath.
Later on, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public when thousands of people from all walks of life walked barefoot to it with flowers in hands and humming "Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February" to recall the supreme sacrifice of the language heroes on this day in 1952.
The day is also being observed in 192 other countries across the world as the International Mother Language Day declared by the UNESCO on November 17, 1999.
On February 21 in 1952, students and people from all walks of life under the All-Party Students Action Committee took on 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, Rafique, Shafique, Jabbar and some others embraced martyrdom when police opened fire on the procession in front of the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH). The movement for Bangla, however, did not stop and Pakistan government on February 29, 1956 was compelled to recognize Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan besides Urdu.
The decision, however, could not stop the movement against repression and misrule of the then Pakistani government and subsequently led to the War of Intendance and ultimately the emergence of independent Bangladesh.
The government had already taken extensive programmes to observe the 'Shaheed Dibash' and the International Mother Language Day on February 21 in a befitting manner.
On the day, the national flag will be remained at half-mast in all educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices and private buildings across the country.