The question as to what would be the state language of Pakistan was raised immediately after its creation. Muslim scholars and leaders logically believed that Urdu, only spoken by 7%, should be the lingua franca because it had gained a reputation as the cultural symbol of subcontinental Muslims. However, eastern Pakistanis regarded Urdu as the language of the elite, not the language of the people in the eastern province - who made up 56% of Pakistan's population - where Bangla was the mother tongue.
After Pakistan's "founding father" Muhammad Ali Jinnah and, later, fellow Bengali Khwaja Nazimuddin declared Urdu as the official state language, protest erupted throughout the eastern wing. On 21 February 1952 (8 Falgun 1359 in Bangla calendar) students protest led to killing of ordinary citizen by the police. More people were killed the next day. In Bangladesh 21st February - 'Ekushey February' in Bangla - is observed as 'Shaheed Dibosh' (Martyr's Day) whilst the United Nations declared it officially as "International Mother Language Day". The Shaheed Minar (Martyr's Column) in Dhaka, and other replicas around the world, was constructed as tribute to those who lost their lives to protect Bangla.
However, the language movement was more than a fight to preserve a rich language dating back over 1,000 years. It was a fight for social and economic justice. A fight to maintain one's own identity at a time when official measures were taken to crush it. A fight taken up by ordinary people, who just wanted to live. A fight taken up by women and children so future generation can say "moder gorob, moder aasha, a'mori Bangla bhasha". For Bengali speaking people worldwide, the language itself is a big part of their history... the very birth of today’s Bangladesh is intimately linked with the Bengali language or Bangla.
Today, Bangla is the 6th most spoken language in the world.
Timeline of major events during Bhasha Andolon of 1947-52
(June 1936 - 14-Point Manifesto by Central Parliamentary Board of Pakistan for "protection and promotion of Urdu") (3 October 1937 - "Urdu should be language of Bengali Muslims" advocated at Lucknow Session of Muslim League) 17 May 1947 - Muslim League leaders announce in Hyderabad, India, that Urdu will become state language for the still to be formed Pakistan 14 July 1947 - Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed says Pakistan should adopt Urdu 29 July 1947 - Bengali Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah defends Bangla July 1947 - Gono Azadi League (GAL) formed by Kamruddin Ahmed 1 September 1947 - Tamaddun Majlish formed under Professor Abdul Kashem's leadership 6-7 September 1947 - Gonotantric Jubo League (Democratic Youth League or DYL) held conference to resist Urdu 15 September 1947 - Tamaddun publish pamphlet "Pakistaner Rashtro Bhasha Bangla na Urdu?" 27 November 1947 - Fazlur Rahman Khan, Bengali Minister of Education, held Education Conference in Karachi, Pakistan, where Bangla is dropped 6 December 1947 - Dhaka University's teachers & students demand Bangla as an official language December 1947 - First "Rastrobhasha Sangram Parishad" (State Language Movement Committee) formed by Tamaddun's Professor Nurul Huq Bhuiyan 25 February 1948 - Dhirendranath Datta request Bangla as an official language in Constituent Assembly of Pakistan held in Karachi. Liaquat Ali Khan, Khwaja Nazimuddin & others object 26 February 1948 - Student in Dhaka protest
11 March 1948 - Shamsul Huq forms committee to led student hartal (demonstration) in order to conduct the Language Movement in a systematic way an all party organization named “Rastro Bhasha Sangram Parishad” was formed March 1948 - Chief Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin signs 7-Point agreement with 'Parishad' 21 Mar 1948 - Md. Ali Jinnah, father of the nation and Governor General of Pakistan, declares "Urdu and only Urdu" as national language of Pakistan in Ramna Racecourse (Suhrawardy Udyan), Dhaka, East Pakistan...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document