Faces in the front line | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 14, 2012

Language Movement in Nilphamari

Faces in the front line

L-R: Fouzia Begum, Chhomela Begum, Khairat Hossain, Abu Nazam Mohd Ali, Mahbubar Rahman Dulu, Shafiar Rahman.

The 1952 Language Movement attained a new dimension in the then sub-divisional town of Nilphamari as a good number of female students organised processions and meetings and inspired people through patriotic songs and poems.
"In those days, women were mostly confined to houses. But in the wake of Language Movement in 1952, they took to the streets, inspiring common people to join the movement to foil the then Pakistan government's conspiracy against the mother tongue," said Language Movement veteran advocate Mahbubar Rahman Dulu.
“A number of female activists, mostly students of Nilphamari Girls' High School, played active role in Language Movement in the area," he said.
On February 21 in 1952, in line with the central programme, an all out strike was observed in the educational institutions of Nilphamari. A big rally was held on the premises of Muslim Hostel of Nilphamari High School. Fouzia Begum and Feroza Begum addressed the rally along with male student leaders.
As the news of killing Rifiq, Salam, Barkat, Jabbar, Shafiq and others on February 21 by Pakistani police in Dhaka reached Nilphamari on the night, thousands of people burst into protest the next day, turning the town into an area of processions and meetings.
The situation turned serious when Pakistan government arrested Awami Muslim League leader Khairat Hossain, the opposition member of the then East Pakistan provincial assembly, in Dhaka on February 22. Khairat Hossain, a lawmaker elected from the district, along with renowned political personality Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarkobagish had walked out from the Provincial Assembly in Dhaka in protest against the killing of February 21.
Thousands of people including a good number of women on 24, 25 and 26 February took to the streets and chanted slogans demanding release of Khairat Hossain and other political prisoners.
To suppress the movement in Nilphamari, police arrested Local Awami Muslim League convener advocate Dabiruddin Ahamed and educationist Abu Nazam Mohammad Ali on the night of February 26, forcing several other local leaders to go into hiding to avert arrest.
During the vacuum in leadership, female activists including Zakia Sultana, Chhomela, Feroza, Halima, Saleha and Sufia arranged street meetings and functions where they delivered fiery speeches, recited poems and rendered patriotic songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Jibonanando Das and others to inspire people.
People besieged the local police station on February 28.
Police arrested local unit Muslim Chhatra League general secretary Shafiar Rahman and Jubo League convenor Shamsul Haque, triggering further protest and indefinite agitation programme by locals.
The arrestees were released after staying in jail for different periods.

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