Students, politicians in alliance
Following Khwaja Nazimuddin's remarks on the language question on January 27, 1952, protests erupted all over the province, especially among intellectuals and students. The Youth League made contact with the Awami Muslim League, a political party formed by Maulana Bhashani and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy in June 1949 as a counterweight to the ruling Muslim League. The result was the convening of an all-party conference on the issue. Held on January 31 and presided over by Maulana Bhashani, the meeting was attended by representatives of diverse organisations. Among the organisations were the Youth League, All-East Pakistan Students' League, Dhaka University State Language Action Committee, Tamaddun Majlis, Islamic Brotherhood, East Pakistan Muslim Students League and East Pakistan Awami Muslim League.
A good number of politicians, particularly Abul Hashim, Hamidul Haq Chowdhury, Shamsul Haq and Khaleq Nawaz Khan severely condemned the government over its insensitivity to Bengali feelings on the language question. The result of the meeting was spectacular: a 40-member body, known as the All-Party State Language Committee of Action, with Kazi Golam Mahbub as convenor, was formed. A number of resolutions were adopted at the meeting, one being an expression of full support for the general strike called for February 4. Moves to adopt the Arabic script for Bangla were roundly condemned and demands for the release of all political prisoners were made. Among the prisoners was a dynamic, young, fast-rising Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On the day of the strike, February 4, a large number of students gathered at Dhaka University for a meeting which commenced at 11 a.m. Presided over by Gaziul Haq, the students deliberated on the issue of whether a demonstration should be organized in the city in the course of the strike. At one point, Abdul Matin, convenor of Dhaka University State Language Committee, intervened to ask the students if they were willing to go for a demonstration. The answer was a resounding 'Yes'. Soon a procession of students was out marching on the streets before the residences of the vice chancellor and the chief minister. The strike on February 4 was observed in Dhaka, Chittagong, Mymensingh, Comilla and Narayanganj.
Buoyed by the public response to the strike, the students of Dhaka University called a general strike throughout East Bengal for February 21.