Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ekushey February: A Timeline -- 3

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1948 (March 11):

A general strike was observed in different cities and towns of East Pakistan. There were protest demonstrations and meetings against the omission of Bangla from languages of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, the absence of Bangla letters in the Pakistani coins and stamps, and the use of only Urdu in the recruitment tests of the Pakistan navy. The protesters also renewed their demand for making Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan and the official language of East Pakistan. There was also a protest meeting on the Unversity of Dhaka campus.

Some protesting leaders and workers of Tamaddun Majlish and East Pakistan Muslim Chhatra League were arrested on the day. Among them, were Shawkat Ali, Kazi Golam Mahboob, Shamsul Huq, Oli Ahad, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and Abdul Wahed.

1948 (March 12-15):
Strikes were observed in support of Bangla language and the arrested leaders.

1948 (March 15):
Governor General Mohammad Ali Jinnah was scheduled to visit East Pakistan from March 19. It was to be his first visit here as the Governor General. Continuous language agitation made East Pakistan Chief Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin nervous as he was desperate in making Mr. Jinnah's visit undisturbed. He sent out a letter inviting Professor Abul Kashem to meet him for discussion.

On March 15, Professor Abul Kashem with a group of representatives of the Language Movement went to meet Khwaja Nazimuddin. Professor Kashem presented a memorandum of agreement to the Prime Minister. After discussion, the Agreement was signed in eight clauses between the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Language Movement Committee.

The points of agreement were as follows:
  1. Those arrested in the movement of Bangla language from 29 February, 1948 onwards shall be released immediately.
  2. They shall set us high-powered commission to enquire about eh complaint of police torture within one month and a statement should be made on it by the Prime Minister himself.
  3. In the first week of April, 1948 meeting of East Bengal Legislative Assembly, a date will be fixed for discussion on a special proposal of making Bangla one of the state languages and giving it an equal status with Urdu in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly and different central government examinations.
  4. A proposal shall be raised in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in the first week of April to replace English with Bangla as the provincial government langauge of East Pakistan. In addition, the medium of education in East Pakistan will be Bangla.
  5. Those involved in the Language movement should not face any action against them.
  6. Bans should be withdrawn from all East Pakistan and Calcutta newspapers.
  7. From February 29, the Section 144 shall be withdrawn from the places of the Language movement.
  8. "After discussion with the Language Movement Committee, I (Chief Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin) am free from doubt that this movement has not been inspired by any enemy of the state." (Ref: Bangladesher Swadhinata Juddha -- Dalilpatra, published by the Ministry of Information, Government of Bangladesh, Vol. 1, 1982, p.77)
Although the Chief Minister avoided his direct responsibility of making Bangla the state language of Pakistan, the Language movement people and others in East Pakistan were satisfied at the signed agreement. Those arrested for language agitation were later released.

1948 (March 19):
Mohammad Ali Jinnah comes to East Pakistan for the first time after becoming the Governor General of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, the day of the country's independence from the English.

1948 (March 21):
At the University of Dhaka convocation ceremony at the Curzon Hall, Governor General Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared that while the language of the province can be Bangla, the "State language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language. Any one who tries to mislead you is really an enemy of Pakistan." Some students, including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, immediately voiced their protest there against Mr. Jinnah's statement and they were arrested.

Later the Governor General met with representatives of the students' Action Committee and tried to convince them of the importance of having one national language, but the students did not agree with him.

(Continued)
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