Why does 21st February has so much significance in our lives? It is not merely a language movement and restoring Bengali as our mother tongue. Many Bengali littérateurs are offended by the use of English in the midst of our national language. Many are constantly reminding us of the anti-liberation people living in our midst and fight to the meanest degree to prove who the real declarer of independence was. As if one and only one person saved us from the curse of our predicament.
These people forget the real history of our nation. For time immemorial, we were always fighting for our independence from despotic rulers who had nothing in common with us. We cannot make a reference point to start our history. But by examination of the recent past, we should appreciate the precious lives given for our independence spanning several centuries.
First by the great famine (ekatturer mannontar) when the English forcefully made us cultivate indigo and opium instead of food grains. Millions of people perished. Gallant Bengali fighters took up arms under the leadership of Shahid Titumir against the British in 1857 to finally get defeated in a bitter fight. The English tightened the noose on the Bengali rebels and Bengal as a whole. They patronized the colorful and obedient warrior class from Western India and the sucker Zaminders of Bengal. In order get a title of Roy Bahadur, these sycophants even likened God and Goddesses in favor of the English royalty or rulers. Bengalis remained dormant for a while until quit India movement. We led the movement for independence of Pakistan. Muslim League was born in Dhaka. We thought we got a homeland and it would be all peaceful and we will live quietly as practicing Muslims in the pure land (Pakistan).
As if it was not enough, on 21 March 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor general of Pakistan, declared that Urdu would be the only official language for both West and East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), having mother language Bangla, started to protest against this. On 21 February 1952, (8th Falgun 1358 in the Bangla calendar), students in the present day capital city of Dhaka called for a provincial strike. The government invoked a limited curfew to prevent this and the protests were tamed down so as to not break the curfew. The Pakistani police fired on the students despite these peaceful protests and a number of students were killed. Four of them were Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar. Once again we gave blood for our just cause. This is the true timeline of our independence. This is when we tacitly declared independence. The peoples of this region (East Pakistan) rose up time and time and we kept up the ante till our liberation in 1971. So ladies and gentlemen, please give some respect for the millions of freedom fighters and their supporters some of whom sacrificed their lives and properties to obtain this precious independence. Many of these fighters disappeared into the population without ever revealing their gallantry, whereas many rose up to take credit as freedom fighters. Our nation has not yet defined who is a freedom fighter and who is not. Yet we are issuing millions of “freedom fighter certificates” at our will. When Awami League comes to power we only hear of the freedom fighters who are Awami League supporters. When the rival BNP comes to power, it switches to something else. It is such a travesty! Our low morals are demonstrated when we fail to acknowledge some of our most gallant fighters who fought bravely to preserve the respect of our people. This is just out of party loyalty. Awami freedom fighters are not same as the others. Conversely, BNP will define it differently when they take over power.
Today, one party glorifies Sheikh Mujib and the other party Ziaur Rahman and as if these two individuals were the only people that delivered us freedom from oppression. Yes, they were definitely instrumental but let’s not lose sight of the millions of people who gave their sweat and blood to achieve it. Talking about glorious leaders, we wiped from our memory many other leaders like Moulana Bhasani, Fazlul Haq and Shahid Suhrawardy to name a few. As if these people did not exist and they did not have any contribution to our emancipation. We have started worshipping two cult figures as if life would not exist without them. We keep naming things after them, change them when one party come to power to be reversed when the other takes over. These are the times of shame and disgrace we live in. Bangladeshis appear to have become docile to these two cultish parties. We fail to see how these parties are carrying us towards destruction. It is about time to call them criminals and obstructionist to a true democracy of the people. If we do not remove these cultish figures aside, we will ruin this great movement whom we lovingly call Bangladesh. We are still in a movement, for we did not get our independence yet. This time, the war is against these two cults. These two leaders have consumed our aspirations as well as our pride. It is about time for our true liberation. While showing respect to these 5 shaheeds on this auspicious day, let us pray to rid Bangladesh from the destructive and monstrous parties and their cultish leaders and sycophants.
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