Nazimuddin slated for backing Urdu
Reaction to Khwaja Nazimuddin's defence of Urdu as the future state language of Pakistan was swift and largely devastating. As already noted, Chief Minister Nurul Amin was taken by surprise with the prime minister's pronouncements, so much so that he subsequently questioned him about it. As Badruddin Umar notes in his account of the day's happenings, Nazimuddin's remarks had even Yusuf Ali Chowdhury, general secretary of the East Pakistan Muslim League, riled. Chowdhury echoed Nurul Amin's feelings to the effect that he and others associated with the ruling party had no idea that Nazimuddin would suddenly raise the Urdu question again before the Bangalee crowd in Dhaka. He and Amin, as he was to reflect on the situation later, were stupefied by the statement.
A good deal more of surprises were to emerge about Nazimuddin's statement. He did not know Bangla and therefore could not speak the language. However, the speech he delivered was in Bangla, sort of, the script having been written in Urdu for the benefit of the prime minister by Mizanur Rahman, a senior Bangalee government official in Karachi. One other surprise was to come from Aziz Ahmed, the non-Bangalee chief secretary of East Pakistan (later foreign secretary when ZA Bhutto was foreign minister and then minister of state for foreign affairs when Bhutto took over as Pakistan's president in December 1971 after the emergence of Bangladesh). Aziz Ahmed was known for his anti-Bangalee views. Even so, he told Nurul Amin that he had not seen the speech before the prime minister delivered it, and indeed would have advised him against raising the Urdu question had he seen the draft of the speech beforehand.
A meeting was organised at Dhaka University two days later, on January 29, to protest Nazimuddin's views. The Dhaka University State Language Committee of Action put up a number of posters on display all over the campus. For his part, Oli Ahad, then general secretary of the Youth League, severely condemned Nazimuddin's views in a press statement that was carried by newspapers in the provincial capital. On January 30, the East Pakistan Muslim Students League (EPMSL) called a students' meeting on the campus of Dhaka University to demand the acceptance of Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan. It also reminded Nazimuddin of his earlier promise, made when he was chief minister of East Bengal, that Bangla would be accorded the status of state language of Pakistan. Once the meeting was over, the EPMSL activists marched in a procession to the chief minister's Burdwan House (today's Bangla Academy) residence, where they raised various slogans in favour of Bangla. It was also announced that all educational institutions in Dhaka would observe a strike on February 4, 1952 to protest the machinations against Bangla.
Interestingly, on January 30, Khwaja Nazimuddin addressed a large public meeting in Dinajpur, where he called upon the people of Pakistan to eschew provincialism.