People from all walks of life paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs, who laid down their lives for the recognition of Bangla as a state language on this day 65 years ago.
Humming “Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February...”, thousands of people thronged the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital and elsewhere in the early hours today to pay homage to the language heroes.
As the clock struck midnight, President Abdul Hamid led the nation in paying tributes by placing wreaths. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed a wreath at the altar just after the president. They stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the language heroes.
The premier was followed by the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, mayors of Dhaka north and south city corporation, chief whip and whips of parliament. After them, the Opposition Leader in parliament, chiefs of the three services and leaders of different political parties paid their homage.
Flanked by cabinet members and senior party leaders, Hasina, also the president of Bangladesh Awami League, placed another wreath at the Shaheed Minar on behalf of the party.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia along with party leaders placed wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar around 1:30am.
Later on, the Shaheed Minar was opened to the public. Hundreds of people walked barefoot to it for paying tribute to the martyrs for their supreme sacrifices.
With Bangladesh, 193 countries across the globe will observe this day, as the Unesco declared it the International Mother Language Day in 1999.
On this day in 1952, students and people from all walks of life 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, Shafiur, Jabbar and a few others were killed when police opened fire on their procession.
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."
To mark the day, the Central Shaheed Minar and its adjacent areas on Dhaka University campus wore a colourful look with street paintings and graffiti with Bangla alphabets and verses about mother languages on the walls.
Today is a public holiday. The national flag will be hoisted at half-mast in all educational institutions and government, semi-government and autonomous offices to show respect to the language martyrs.
The president, the PM, the opposition leader, the BNP chairperson and leaders of other political parties issued separate messages on the day.
Abdul Hamid in his message said being a source of ceaseless inspiration, Amar Ekushey had inspired the nation to establish a sovereign state through a nine-month struggle under the farsighted and charismatic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, UNB adds.