Bangladesh: Bengali Language Movement



Background preceding the Movement

The Bengali language movement Bhasha Andolon

Contributors to the movement

Personal experience

Celebrating Ekushe February
(21st February)

A brief account of post-language movement

Declaration ofInternational Mother Language Day

About the Bengali language and the Bangladesh National Anthem with translation


Contact me

Contact me



~A brief account: Post-Language Movement ~


The people’s confidence on the Muslim League had greatly eroded with the incorrect handling of the language movement along with the famine that was ongoing. The result was their rout in the first election for East Bengal Provincial Assembly held between 8 and 12 March 1954. . The Awami Muslim League, Krishak Sramik party and Nezam-e-Islam formed the United Front, on the basis of 21-points agenda. Notable pledges contained in the 21-points were: making Bangla one of the state languages, autonomy for the province, reforms in education, independence of the judiciary, making the legislative assembly effective, etc. The United Front bagged 215 out of 237 Muslim seats in the election. The ruling Muslim League got only 10 seats. The result represented much more than a set of rulers by another. It marked the emergence of regional autonomy and cultural identity of the Bengalis that defined the fulcrum of East Pakistani politics and ultimately its independence in 1971. As expected, the central Pakistani government dismissed the United Front Government.

This preceded to a massive riot between Bengali and non-Bengali workers in Karnaphuli, Chittagong after a speech given by Fazlul Haq, the leader of United Front, focusing on the importance of brotherhood in the entire Indian sub-continent. Dismissing the Huq ministry, the governor-general imposed “governor’s rule”, under Section 92A of the Government India Act of 1935, appointed Defence Secretary Iskander Mirza Governor and dispatched 10,000 troops to maintain order.

All this further alienated East Bengal and intensified the struggle for autonomy, mainly led by the Bengali middle-class. Moreover the contradiction which led to the India-Pakistani partition took a new face as the cultural, linguistic and ethnic differences became more and more apparent. This was further compounded by all the political oppression that East Pakistan faced. At one point the Governor of East Pakistan, Monaem Khan, banned public meetings, censored the press, controlled radio programmes, banned the import of books and magazines from West Bengal and the broadcast of Tagore songs in the radio. As all these incidents began to build up tension, politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman introduced the famous Six-Point Programme at an all-party meeting in Lahore. Time was only ticking before the outbreak of war between the two regions erupted.
The events that preceded 21st February convince Bengalis and scholars to mark the language movement as the trigger for the ultimate independence of Bangladesh in 1971.