Bangladesh pays homage to language martyrs

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Dhaka, Feb 21 (UNI) Thousands of people paid homage to the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement at Central Shaheed Minar (Central Martyrs Memorial) here today.

On February 21, 1952, a number of people including students laid down their lives demanding recognition of 'Bangla' as a state language of erstwhile Pakistan, when Bangladesh was a province of Pakistan under the name of East Pakistan.

The Language Movement ultimately led to a long-drawn struggle for independence and eventually resulted in the liberation of Bangladesh on December 16 in 1971.

In observance of the Shaheed Day and UN-declared International Mother Language Day people wore black badges and walked with bare foot towards the martyrs memorial in processions.

The mournful strain of the chorus ''Can I Forget the February 21 stained with Bloods of My Brother'' reverberated around the memorial.

President Iajuddin Ahmed led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at zero hours today. He was followed by Chief Adviser of the caretaker Government Fakhruddin Ahmed. Both of them observed silence for a minute as mark of respect to the martyrs.

Later, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Dhaka City Mayor, foreign diplomats, representatives of international organisations and thousands of people as well as members of political parties and socio-cultural organisations paid respect to the martyrs, placing wreaths and bouquets, and showering flower petals at the altar.

Today is public holiday and the national flag will fly at half-mast atop government, autonomous and private buildings.

On November 17, 1999, UNESCO declared it an international event in recognition of the 1952 movement. The day is also observed as the International Mother Language Day in 188 countries across the globe.

In a message, Dr Ahmed said the spirit of 'Ekushey' would consolidate the nation's democratic advancement along with overall economic development and progress. ''The great Language Movement is the prime source of awakening the sense of nationalism among the people of Bangladesh,'' he said.

The glaring spirit of the Language Movement arouses the people to stand against all injustices and unfairness and helps attain overall progress of the country.

He hoped that the observance of the International Mother Language Day would strengthen the bridge of unity and amity among the peoples of the world.

UNI XC SYU DS1220

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