The Struggle to Instate Bangla as a State Language of Pakistan: The Story of Adeluddin Ahmed, an Adroit Legislator


Martyrs Procession Adeluddin Ahmed Adeluddin Ahmed Commemorative Coin Decoration Shahid Minar Departed Ekushey

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It is probably unimaginable to reflect the suffering that the people of East Pakistan went through to win for themselves one of the most fundamental rights of mankind - Freedom of Speech. People in East Pakistan were restricted by the Central Pakistani government to only use Urdu as their medium of instruction and the official language, and give up their own beloved language, Bangla. Foregoing the language that was central to their ethnological identity was a very unpleasant option for the constituents of the Eastern wing of Pakistan. The Central government demanded that Urdu be the state language for the entire Pakistan, as Urdu was the dominant language in the western part. The general populace of the Eastern part of Pakistan was not ready to embrace Urdu and learn a new language in order to facilitate this forced imposition by the government. Instead of complying, the determined citizens of East Pakistan wanted to defy the odds and protested to retain their mother tongue. A group of students and political activists of University of Dhaka and Dhaka Medical College decided to protest against the oppression meted out to the Bangla-speaking population. They initiated a movement and demanded that Bangla be given equal status as Urdu, and for both to be enshrined as the state languages of Pakistan. The police fired upon the youths and made them the martyrs who epitomized the value of self-determination; their sacrifice set a new precedent for the country to demand their Freedom of Speech. This brutal atrocity took place on 21 February, 1952.

From 1952 to 1956, the movement to make Bangla a state language, had an electric impact on the rest of the country. The unresponsive Western wing did not take any pro-active steps to establish Bangla as the state language, but they sought other compromises that would keep Urdu as the sole state language of Pakistan, but placate the residents of Eastern Pakistan, such as writing Bangla with Arabic script. Bangla was not the state of language of Pakistan until Mr. Adeluddin Ahmed, a member of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, elected from the district of Faridpur in Eastern Pakistan as a United Front candidate, proposed an amendment to make Bangla and Urdu the twin state languages of Pakistan. This bill was unanimously accepted. The Bangla-speaking constituents overcame an arduous challenge at the cost of the bloodshed of the young students to have Bangla as a state language of Pakistan.

Bangla Alphabet
Shaheed Minar Memorial to commemorate those who gave up their lives for Bangla


Purpose of Website: To illustrate the historical background of 21st February 1952, celebrated the world-over currently as International Mother Language Day, and the contribution of Adeluddin Ahmed, Member of the Constituent Assembly, for proposing the legislation to establish both Bangla and Urdu as the joint state languages of Pakistan.

This website is the final project for Professor Vincent Ferraro's World Politics Course.


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