Monday, February 23, 2009

Ekushey February: A Timeline -- 1

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THE POLITICAL BACKGROUND:


13th Century:

Turkish Muslim conquerors begin their advance on Bengal from other parts of India. Gradually Turkish, Afghan and Mughal Muslim rulers were in-charge of Bengal. In the 15th century, Abyssinian black slaves, for a time, were in power in Bengal.

15th Century:
The Europeans -- Portuguese, Dutch, French and English traders -- start trading with Bengal.

1690:
Job Charnock of the [English] East India Company receives the trade settlement right in and around the villages of Kalikata, Sutanauti and Gobindapur on the eastern bank of the Hughli (Bhagirathi) River. This English settlement later came to be called Calcutta (presently Kolkata).

1757 (June 23):
Several disputes between the Nawab of Bengal Mirza Muhammad Sirajuddaula (popularly known only as 'Sirajuddaula') and the East India Company traders came to a head and led to an 8-hour battle in the village of Palashi (the English call it 'Plassey'), in present Nadia District of West Bengal. Due to bribing by the English and also personal ambitions, Nawab's army chief Mir Jafar Ali Khan (popularly known as 'Mir Jafar') and some other high-ranking officials betrayed the Nawab in the battle of Palashi in spite of having well-armed superior forces than the English. The Farsi-and-Urdu-speaking Nawab was thus defeated and later killed. This crucial defeat laid the foundation of the English rule in Bengal and later expansion of their hegemony in other parts of India.

1857:
The English East India Company by this time was ruling a large part of the Upper Ganjetic Plain and Central India, including the greater Bengal. On May 10, a rebellion (termed 'mutiny' by the British) of Indian sepoys ('sipahi' or soldier) of the Company broke out in Meerut town of present Uttar Pradesh, India. Then it quickly spread to different parts of the Company-ruled India, including the region of present-day Bangladesh. This revolt was the first War of Independence of India. It is also called the 'Sepoy Mutiny', 'Indian Mutiny', or 'Indian Rebellion of 1857'. The rebellion was completely suppressed with much bloodshed in the following year.

1858:
Since 1757, the East India Company ruled India in the name of the British monarchy. After the suppression of the soldiers' rebellion, the British Government under the monarchy took over the full and direct control of governing India. This is called the British Raj (rule), which ended in August, 1947, with the independence of India and Pakistan.

THE BANGLA (BENGALI) LANGUAGE MOVEMENT:

1947 (July):
Even before the independence of Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah, an educationist, writer and philologist, was the first to propose and reason out that Bangla (Bengali), not Urdu, should be the state lanaguage of the independent Pakistan.

1947 (August 14):
Muslim-majority regions of East Bengal and the region, later known as West Pakistan, gained independence from the English and became Pakistan. On August 15, the Hindu majority areas of the subcontinent became independent India. The Farsi-and-Urdu-speaking Muslims, mostly from north India gave leadership to Muslim independence movement.

1947 (September 1):
An Islamic cultural organization, called Pakistan Tamaddun Majlish (popularly known as 'Tamaddun Majlish'), was founded in Dhaka in the light of Calcutta Renaissance Society. Professor Abul Kashem of the Physics Department of the University of Dhaka was its founder.

1947 (September 15):
Tamaddun Majlish published a pamphlet, called Pakistaner Rastra Bhasha: Bangla Na Urdu? (Pakistan's State Language: Bangla or Urdu?). Professor Abul Kashem, Abul Mansur Ahmed and Kazi Motahar Hossain were among the writers of the pamphlet. Some of their demands were:
  • Bangla and Urdu be two official languages of the Central Government of Pakistan.
  • Bangla be the medium of instruction, court language and official language of East Pakistan.
  • Urdu be taught as a second language in East Pakistan.
  • English be the third or international language of East Pakistan.
  • For the first few years, both English and Bangla be the official languages in East Pakistan.
1947 (November):
At the call of Fazlur Rahman, a Bangali, who was also the Central Education Minister of Pakistan, representatives of both the wings of Pakistan attended the Pakistan Educational Conference in Karachi. In this conference, the Education Minister made slanderous comments on Bangla (Bengali) langauge and script. Finally, the majority participants of the conference took the unilateral decision of adopting Urdu as the only state language of Pakistan.

(Continued)

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