rich documentation of our Language Movement
is usually made at a huge price. But even to preserve history
requires immense effort at both government and non-government
levels. At times, efforts by individuals may excel all others
in terms of richness, sincerity and, above all, passion. CM
Tarek Reza's Ekush is one such example of personal endeavour
in preserving the history of our Language Movement.
A Photographic History of the Language Movement (1947-1956),
the book does not only delve deep into the background of the
historic event but also focuses on its aftermath which ultimately
paved the way of the country's Independence War.
covered and illustrated by Kanak Aditya and Sabyasachi Hazra,
the 154-page album brought out by the Standard Chartered Bank,
Bangladesh contains a lot of priceless photographs revealing
different historic moments at different phases of the Language
Movement. Various documents like the first written poems and
songs on February 21, posters and leaflets in protest of the
killing of the language martyrs, clippings from newspapers
of the time like The Azad, The Ittefaq, weekly Sainik and
others have also contributed to the richness of the documentation.
messages from the President Dr Iajuddin Ahmed and Standard
Chartered Bank's Bangladesh CEO David Fletcher, the book contains
messages from two eminent Language Movement activists Abdul
Matin and Gaziul Haq. Along with the words of these two, a
'Brief History of Language Movement' written by another revered
Language Movement activist Professor Rafiqul Islam elaborates
on the major incidents of the movement.
Islam has also contributed a large number of photographs and
documents used in the book. The other contributors include
Amanul Haq, Jamil Chowdhury, Monwar Ahmed, Bangabandhu Foundation
history section begins with the picture of a booklet brought
out in September 1947 by Tamaddun Majlish. Dr Kazi Motahar
Hossain, Abul Mansur Ahmad and others have contributed articles
on the debate over the issue of the state language of Pakistan
in that booklet. A photograph shows a procession of students
and people on its march towards the secretariat on March 11,
1948. The protest was against the decision of Pakistan's Constituent
Assembly on February 23 that members could speak only in Urdu
and English. A general strike was called on March 11.
is also the picture of the Governor General Mohammad Ali Jinnah
at the Racecourse meeting on March 21, 1948, where he declared,
'Urdu, only Urdu shall be the state language of Pakistan.'
contains scores of photographs of rallies and processions
taking place throughout February 1952 protesting the accentuated
decision that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan.
photographs capture the martyrdom of Rafiquddin Ahmed with
his skull blown off by a bullet. The next day, the whole Dhaka
City bubbled with protesting people from all walks of life.
Thousands of people gathered at different places in Dhaka
on March 5, which was then declared the Shaheed Day, to pay
tribute to the Language Martyrs--Rafique, Salam, Barkat, Jabbar
of photographs constitute the history of the Shaheed Minar,
the monument now so dear to us, where generations have been
paying their tributes to the Language Martyrs. The first Shaheed
Minar was built by students of Dhaka Medical College on February
24. The monument was abolished by police on February 26. A
picture shows students of Eden College building a Shaheed
Minar amidst protest by Urdu teacher of Dhaka College Ahsan
Ahmed Ashq, Principal Shamsuzzaman Chowdhury and Eden College
Principal Fazilatunnesa Zoha. Another 1953 photo shows teachers
and students of the Urdu department of Dhaka University paying
respect to the martyrs at Azimpur graveyard. A few photographs
capture the moments when the foundation stone of the present
Shaheed Minar was inaugurated by Maulana Bhashani, martyr
Barkat's mother Hasina Begum and Chief Minister of East Pakistan
Abu Hossain Sarkar.
present eminent political and cultural personalities of the
time involved in the Language Movement. Another picture shows
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman taking wounded activist Shawkat Ali
to hospital. Another picture shows Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan
Bhashani and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman paying tribute
on February 21, 1954.
show the Language Movement activities outside Dhaka too: in
Rajshahi, Jamalpur, Barisal, Chittagong and others. Prabhat
Feri (Dawn March) of 1953 at different places of the country
in memory of the Language Martyrs features many photographs.
contains manuscripts of the first poems and songs on February
21, 1952. These include Kandte Ashini by poet Mahbubul Alam
Chowdhury, Smritistanbho by poet Alauddin Al Azad, Ekusher
Gaan by Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Bhulbona by Gaziul Haq and
Ora amar mukher bhasha by Abdul Latif.
include two instant works of artist Murtaza Bashir, two posters
published in the weekly Sainik. A few leaflets and posters
published at that time show the government propaganda against
Bangla and the Language Movement. The book also contains four
cartoons by famous 'Dopeyaja'.
February 1956: Shaheed Barkat's sister, sister-in-law and
mother standing in front of the foundation stone of the central
book presents pictures and information on the five Language
Martyrs--Abdul Jabbar, Rafiquddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat, Abdus
Salam and Shafiur Rahman. And finally there is a list of names
and photographs of the Language Movement activists from all
over the country.
Reza has taken part in several research works on our Liberation
War. He has made two documentary films--Bijoyketan and Sangram
Theke Shadhinata. His contribution also includes the foundation
of the Bijoyketan Museum at Dhaka Cantonment and working for
the Liberation War Museum at Segun Bagicha. He has a research
centre named Research Centre of History.
Ekush is no doubt one of the most important inclusions in
the research based works on the political history of our country,
especially since there are few works on the Language Movement
of 1952. The book has been published by the Standard Chartered
Bank, Bangladesh 'in limited editions of 1000 numbered copies'
for its customers 'as a corporate gift'. Those who have a
chance to look at the book, perhaps by borrowing from others,
will eagerly wait for a public edition. Standard Chartered
Bank deserves our appreciation for making such a timely publication
on one of the most significant chapters of our history.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004