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

  ~Personal Experience~  

Dr. Jashimuddin Ahmed, a noted nuclear scientist of  Bangladesh gave me an eye witness account of the fateful day while I met him in the year 2007 in a family gathering which is as follows:

On the fateful day of 21st February, 1952 at around  3 pm on a winter afternoon police fired shots indiscriminately from their gun at the protesting students near the gate of the then Dhaka Medical College hostel who came out to break the government ban on meeting and gathering. Actually all began with students throwing bricks towards the police contingent and they retaliated in the same manner by throwing back at the students .After a few bricks actually hit some policemen , the police opened fire with rifles. The students tried to take cover behind the bamboo walled tin shed hostel structures .The police chased them coming inside the gate and targeted the students as they were running away.  Dr. Jashimuddin , his friend Mr. Shahjahan on his left side and Barkat  on his right side were standing only 30 feet away from the place wherefrom the police was firing bullets . A large number of police were posted there, but only three of them were firing shots.

Few of the shots missed their heads just for a few inches, but  they could hear the sound of the flying
bullets. Suddenly they could see Barkat on his right side fell on the floor of the corridor with a groaning sound, and tried to crawl back on his elbows . Barkat was bleeding profusely and was in severe pain. He will never forget the scene on a day that has become the most memorable day in Bangladesh’s history. Indeed , through the declaration of the International Mother Language Day, February 21 has also become an internationally significant day. When Barkat fell on the floor  Dr.Jashim just dropped all the brick bats he was holding in his hand  to lift the wounded body of Barkat with the help of  his friend Shajahan and others who came forward  to help them and sent  him to medical college emergency. His shirts and pants were drenched with the blood of Barkat .  Barkat was  lean , thin and tall , and was not even  known to him before this incident , but he can still hear the groaning sound of the husky voice of  dying Barkat even after 57 years of  the incident . Barkat underwent surgery but the bleeding could not be stopped. At about 9 30 pm he had expired , and embraced martyrdom.

Thus ended the life and ambitions of a simple and innocent man, who could not understand why the legitimate demands for the Bengali language’s rightful place in Pakistan would be denied. Barkat’s
forceful protest on February 21, 1952 was no accident. He believed in the righteousness of his cause, gave his life and became a real hero and a martyr. On that fateful day despite the All-Party Committee of Action’s inconclusive meeting on 20th February,1952 in Dhaka Court Bar Library, Dr. Jashim and his friends  decided to go out into the street in groups of ten to defy the ban on the procession and gathering . Police constables had barricaded the gate just outside the Proctor’s office with their lathis.  Dr.Jashim  and his party pushed them away and made their  way out. They appeared to be lenient. Our group was probably the fourth, composed of five men and five women. The preceding groups were taken away in police trucks to a distant place. For whatever reason , maybe shortage of trucks , they could escape. Dr.Jashim and his friends were able to proceed close to the Medical Building gate. At that point, police threw tear gas canisters at them, enveloping them with smoke with an obnoxious odour. They had irritating and teary eyes and could see with some difficulty. Undaunted, they marched forward, shouting slogans for Bengali language and denouncing the government action. They were lathi charged by the police who blocked their path with a truck when they were  just past the Medical College hostel gate. They were getting too close to their destination, the Jagannath Hall, where the provincial assembly was in session. Slightly injured and dazed, some of them then took shelter inside the hostel, where the medical students attended to their problems. Others dispersed in different directions. Meanwhile, students inside the arts building broke open a part of the thin brick wall dividing the Arts and the medical buildings, a few feet away from Madhu’s teashop. They went to the medical hostel area from where some of them threw brickbats at the police on the street, protesting police actions against those of them who had gone out. Brick throwing went on for some time, with the police throwing these back at the students , and at one stage  Barkat got wounded and later succumbed to it.