Throughout February the Shorbodolio Kendrio Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod held protest meetings.
On 4 February 1952, around 11 O'clock in the morning, a huge number of students from Dhaka University and other institutions gathered on the university premises. Presided by Gaziul Haq, the students contemplated demonstrating in the city against the language issue. At one point, Abdul Matin, convenor of Dhaka University State Language Committee, intervened to ask the students if they were willing to go for a demonstration. The answer was a resounding 'Yes'. Soon a procession of young students were led by Gaziul Haq and Abdul Matin through Nawabpur Road, Dhaka, and passed by official homes of the vice chancellor and the chief minister. They warned the government to withdraw its proposal to write Bengali in Arabic script, and insisted on the recognition of Bengali.
This strike on 4th February was also observed in other towns and cities such as Chittagong, Mymensingh, Comilla and Narayanganj.
"Jagbar Din Aaj" by Sukanta Bhattacharya
The East Bengal Legislative Assembly met in the afternoon of 20 February 1952. Of a total of 123 members of the assembly, 80 were present in the House. As soon as the session began, Khairat Hossain - an Awami Muslim League opposition leader from Nilphamari, Rangpur Division - demanded a discussion on the ban imposed on the Pakistan Observer newspaper a week earlier (13 February 1952) for supporting the Bangla language movement. This move was swiftly opposed by Chief Minister Nurul Amin who had informed the Assembly that the step had been necessitated 'in the public interest' as the newspaper was accused of causing provocation on the language issue. Thus, the motion was not allowed by the speaker and no further discussion could take place on the matter.
Around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, as preparations for the 21st February demonstrations were underway, the Muslim League government suddenly imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the city of Dhaka for 30 days. This meant there was a ban on processions, demonstrations and gatherings of more than four people in any public place or thoroughfare in the city. The orders were served by the District Magistrate of Dhaka, S. H. Qureshi. He was a new Magistrate of limited experience who had only assumed charge as District Magistrate the day before, and was thrown into the deep end of announcing it to the general public and fulfilling the orders successfully. District Magistrate Qureshi feared that there might be a breach of peace and disturbance of public tranquility in the city which would jeopardise the East Bengal Legislative Assembly's session scheduled to be held the next day (i.e. 21 February 1952) along with the meeting arranged by the Provincial Muslim League Council on the same day.
The order was promulgated [announced to the public] by beat of drum throughout the city; a publicity van broadcast it through the microphones and copies were given to the various newspapers [to be issued on the morning of the next day, i.e. 21 February 1952]. Police arrangements were made to meet the expect emergency and by 7:30 a.m. on the 21st of February, 1952, the Control Room was manned and dispositions were, made of the Police forces accordance with these arrangements.
Government officials were quick to justify the imposition of Section 144. Among them was Aziz Ahmed, chief secretary to the government of East Bengal, who pointed out that intelligence reports had warned of plans by the protestors to surround the assembly premises and enter the House forcibly. Reality was much different. The students of Dhaka University as well as the general public had done nothing that could be construed as violent in intent or nature. Clearly the growing momentum to establish Bangla as a state language had unnerved the government.
The fact was that though the protestors did plan to lay siege to the assembly they did not mean to enter it. The government was simply resorting to falsehood in order to clamp Section 144 on the capital as a way of preventing any public show of protest on the language issue.
Most interestingly, it was Chief Minister Nurul Amin who put his own government in an embarrassing situation. He noted subsequently that the decision to impose Section 144 had been made at the official, meaning bureaucratic, level and he had not been consulted on the subject. Amin's statement is a broad hint of how politicians in power at the time were hostage to their officials, in other words, those who were supposed to take orders from them. Chief Secretary Aziz Ahmed ran the province with no thought to the authority of the chief minister
Syed Badrul Ahsan, Journalist
The government's action quickly led to rethinking on the part of the Shorbodolio Kendrio Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod. That evening after Section 144 was announced, the Action Committee met at the premises of the Awami League office in an emergency meeting under the chairmanship of Abul Hashim since Maulana Bhasani was at Tangail and Sheikh Mujib was jailed.
They met to decide the strategy about the strike but opinion was divided about the violation of Section 144. With the upcoming General Election in mind and unaware of the tragic violent outcome that was to follow, an overwhelming 20 out of the 24 leaders (in other literature this is quoted as 11 out of the 16 leaders) decided against violating Section 144 and planned to call off the strike for the next day.
However, in that meeting it was further decided that Shamsul Huq, General Secretary of Awami Muslim League would go to Dhaka University to discuss the matter with the student leaders and convince them to restrain from breaking Section 144.
A major factor that appeared to have guided the Action Committee into its new move was the view of those present that a violation of the restraining orders could lead to a delay in the holding of provincial elections, something that was expected to be held sooner rather than later.
It may be noted that elections to the East Bengal Legislative Assembly had repeatedly been delayed on one pretext or another. The provincial government, fearing a rout at the polls, was not willing to call elections only to lose office. The Action Committee was therefore reluctant to give the government any more chance of keeping the elections at bay.
Most of the leaders on the night of February 20th returned home with the confidence of the decision not to violate the restriction imposed section 144.
Amor Ekushe website
The move to call off the strike was, however, strongly opposed by the students and student leaders of Dhaka University, Dhaka Medical College and Engineering College. The student body was not intimidated by Section 144. They accepted the challenge. They refused to compromise with their marti bhasha Bangla and were determined to hold a protest meeting on 21st February at the University campus.
Tempers ran high, so much so that eventually the Action Committee decided that the next day, 21 February 1952, the option of whether the strike would go ahead or would be called off would be left to the students. The moment of decision was thus at hand.
On 19 February 1952 students gathered under the leadership of Zillur Rahman, current President of Bangladesh, in the historic Amtala (Mango grove) of Dhaka University demanding Bangla as the state language. The work plan of 21 February was taken from here.
The following day (20 February 1952), having rejected the Language Action Committee’s plea not to go ahead with the 21st February demonstration, 11 student leaders met at the pond-side between Fazlul Huq Hall and Dhaka Hall of Dhaka University and took a firm decision to violate section 144 - even if it came at the cost of their lives.
During this meeting it was decided that Muhammad Habibur Rahman would lead the first batch of procession. And, in order to keep the blueprint of the rally confidential, Gaziul Huq and MD. Sultan wrote slips on cigarette packets requesting all students of Dhaka University to come to the university between 9.30 to 10.30 a.m.
The events of 21st ('Ekushey' in Bangla) February 1952 - or 8 Falgun 1359 in Bangla calendar - would go on to dramatically alter history. Just three years into the creation of Pakistan, signs of discontent in the eastern wing were plain to see. And now, within five years lives would be lost in the course of political controversy. Bengal would never be the same again and it's history would change forever.
The Police had anticipated that the hartal declared for the 21st February would soon lead to trouble in the University area and had made arrangements to face the emergency. By 7.30 am they had taken up their position according to the arrangements made previously. Siddique Dewan, the Deputy Superintendent, was positioned for duty in the University ground whilst Masood Mahmood, the Additional Superintendent of Police, went out on his rounds and visited the Police Outposts from the early morning.
According to Masood Mahmood, students were forcing hartal upon the general public in the University area. They were allegedly stopping vehicles, forcing passengers to alight from buses, taxis, rickshaws and cars and their tyres were deflated in order to prevent them from being used. The police officers intervened in order to keep traffic moving and were 'abused in filthy language', with the Additional Superintendent himself a prime target of the students' attack.
By 7.45 am, the Superintendent of Police, Muhammad Idris, had received report of these happenings. He hurried to the troublesome spot by 8.15 am and had witnessed these students' "violence" for himself. When the Superintendent's attempts to dissaude the students from their activities failed, he ordered his men to take up positions in the vicinity of the University. However, this did not prevent students and non-students alike from passing through the institution's gates.
The S.P. (Superintendent of Police) tried his best to dissuade the students from carrying on these activities but he found that his protests were not having any effect and as he anticipated trouble he stationed police in that particular area. At 9am at the University gate he had in position the D.S.P. (Deputy Superintendent of Police), one Inspector, 2 head constables and 20 constable of the S.A.F. (Special Armed Force), one Inspector, one Sub-Inspector, one Sergeant, 2 head constables and 14 constables armed with lathis. At the Medical College gate he had one head constable, and 10 constables of the S.A.F., and near the Salimullah Muslim Hall he had one head constable, and 10 constables who were armed.
By 9 o'clock in the morning, thousands of students from different schools and colleges of Dhaka assembled at University of Dhaka premises in defiance of Section 144.
On that morning, the crowd increased, both in numbers and in intensity, sending out the clear feeling that a showdown was on the way. Room for compromise was conspicuous by its absence. And yet no one could imagine that the state would shoot its own children.
Armed police surrounded the campus and were waiting outside the gate. The situation by 10 am had become so tense that a message was sent to District Magistrate Quareshi to come to the University gate immediately. Upon arrival and witnessing the mass defiance, Quareshi got the Registrar of the University to telephone the Vice-Chancellor of University of Dhaka, Dr. S. M. Hossain, and asked him and the other University's authorities to persuade the students not to violate the order under section 144.
Shortly afterward Dr. S. M. Hossain and a few university teachers, including Dr. Zuberi and Dr. Ghani, requested the students not to violate the ban on assembly - but the student leaders gave a deaf ear to this request.
When the Vice-Chancellor approached the students whose number he estimated at 1,000 or so, at first they asked him to lead their procession in violation of the order. He proposed that they might hold a meeting, pass a resolution and then disperse. The students met this proposal with a request for him to give them a lead in the matter and preside over the meeting. He did not agree. But he said he was prepared to associate with them if they gave him a guarantee that they would behave peacefully and disperse peacefully after the meeting. The guarantee was never given though some of the leading students tried without success to prevail upon the general body of students. The Vice-Chancellor refused to accept the students' suggestion that he should act according to the decision of the meeting.
It was abundantly clear that the students were in no mood to listen to any reasonable suggestions and had obviously made up their minds to violate the orders under section 144 of the Code.
The officials addressed the students pleading with them to stop their "unlawful" business. The Vice-Chancellor told them "in a democratic country like Pakistan, everybody had a full right to express his opinion", but as true Pakistanis, he appealed to them not to break the law. He advised them to hold their meeting in the compound and pass resolutions if they wanted but they should not go out in a crowd as Section 144 was in operation in the city.
Aziz Ahmad & Karigoudar Ishwaran, editors of "Contributions to Asian Studies, Volume 5" (1971)
Around 11 am a student meeting took place at Amtala which was presided by Gaziul Huq where they were discussing the pros and cons of the emergent situation. Shamsul Huq, dressed in a sherwani and a black Jinnah cap, arrived at the meeting and voiced the concern of the Shorbodolio Kendrio Rashtrobhasha Kormi Porishod. He requested the students to adhere to the Section 144 ban and not go ahead with the protest.It was followed by a loud roar of protest from the students. Shamsul Huq was unable to finish his speech. The students and student leaders of Dhaka University, Dhaka Medical College and Engineering College could not agree with that decision and were determined to hold a protest meeting at the University campus. Abdul Matin sympathised with the majority voice claiming that if Section 144 was not violated on that day then in the future no movements could go ahead owing to its fear.
Are we then to retreat because we are afraid of breaking Section 144?
When he posed the question to the students whether to retreat the protest they replied with a resounding "No" – though a small section of students and student leaders were against it.
Hundreds of students and workers toiled immensely towards the preparation of meetings, processions and the final strike of February 21st and therefore were not ready to give up due to the fear of its consequences.
Amor Ekushe website
By 11.15am, students gathered at the university gate and attempted to break the police line.
With the meeting over swiftly, one of the student leaders, Abdus Samad Azad (later Foreign Minister under Awami League government) proposed that instead of going through a huge procession, a rally of "10 persons" should be on the streets in groups. By taking this strategic measure, Article 144 will be disobeyed without creating mass violence.
The requests of student leaders were permitted and the gates of the Arts Faculty were opened to this and "10 Persons" procession.
The students began to go out in the streets in small batches of 6, 8 and 10 at a time and voluntarily courted arrest by breaking Section 144. They climbed into police vehicles of their own accord and taken to the police stations.
The first group that came out for arrest was lead by Habibur Rahman Shelley (later Justice of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh). The second group to be arrested was led by Abdus Samad Azad, the third group was led by Anowarul Haq Khan, and the fourth group was led by Zafar Obaidullah Khan (later a Minister in Ershad's government, and an Ambassador). Finally, a procession of women came out that were also arrested.
In the Ellis Report, police and University witnesses stated that the students actually came out in batches of 25 or 30 as their names were called from a roster-list in a notebook. This, apparently, indicates that the student meeting was a 'pretence' and the whole drama was a planned and calculated event as they had selected the names of the students who were to defy the order and had arranged the order in which particular students were to leave the University premises for that purpose. The Report also declared that no female students were arrested during this event.
In all 91 persons were arrested and by that time all available accommodation in the police vehicles had been filled up and the Police were in the embarrassing position of not being able to remove any more persons under arrest.
Sensing this embarrassment [of the police] the crowd became more truculent and began to throw brickbats at the Police. The Police had to make further arrangement in the disposition of their forces.
Some constables had to be sent in order to escort the students who had been arrested. The Additional S.P. [Superintendent of Police] was sent to the Assembly House in order to guard the same as it was reported that the students intended to stage a march on the Assembly House and a gas squad was brought to the University gate.
It may be noted that the principal objective of a violation of Section 144 was a march the students planned to the Legislative Assembly premises, where they would urge the lawmakers to present a forceful case for Bangla in the proceedings of the House. The difficulty they faced, though, was the increasingly high number of policemen on the campus. The dilemma was obvious: the students had to find a way of breaking through the police cordon and marching on. In the event, it was decided that they would break through the police presence in groups of 10.
However, the process of peaceful breaking of Section 144 did not continue for long. Soon, the streets were flooded with hundreds of students protesting for their civil rights for the establishment of their mother language.
After the voluntary arrest of the 91 students there was a general rush from the University compound. By noon students from various institutions in Dhaka gathered and protested with slogans such as "Rastro basha Bangla chai" (We want Bangla as National language)... "Cholo cholo assembly cholo" (Let's go to the assembly)..."Police Zulum Chalbe Na" (We won't accept police brutality)..."We will disobey Section 144".
At one stage police entered into the University campus and resorted to beating the student crowd with lathi (baton). This infuriated the student who far outnumbered the police - there were around 50-67 members of the police force (including 3 head constables, 30 constables of the armed branch, 2 field constable and 14 constables of the unarmed branch, and 1 head constable and 14 constable of the gas squad, 1 Inspector and 2 Sergeants) whilst the crowd was estimated to be around 5,000 - 6,000, according to the District Magistrate and police officials. In retaliation they started to throw bricks at the police and, to aid communication and collaborative action, broke the wall between the Arts faculty and the Medical College Hospital so that there would be a larger area in which they can protest against the police. It also made it easier for the student to pass from one compound to the other within the University area without coming out on to the Secretariat Road.
By this time the situation was getting out of control. Police fired tear gas shells towards the gate to warn the students and disperse the students by firing blanks. A section of students ran into the Dhaka Medical College Hospital while others rallied towards the university premises blocked by police lines. The ensuing riot spread to the nearby campuses of the Medical and Engineering colleges. The vice-chancellor asked police to stop firing and ordered the students to leave the area but to no avail. More armed police and para-military forces was bought in to subdue the lively crowd. They started wide-spread tear gas shelling, throwing gas grenades and clubbing – even female students. The result of the gas attack was that the students scattered only to reassemble in the Medical College area and on the other side of the Secretariat Road in the University playground.
Gaziul Huq was one of many students who was most affected during the police gas attack. One of the shells hit him and he became unconscious.
To scatter the students, the police charged into the faculty premises, firing rounds of teargas shells and beating whoever came their way. The air was thick with eye-stinging teargas. One of the shells hit Gazi Bhai. He lost consciousness. The intensity of the gas must have contributed to this. A group of students carried him to the second floor of the faculty building. There he was doused with water. Soon he came round. I am witness to all this. It has sometimes been said that his losing of consciousness was a sham or, at best an exaggeration. To those of us who were very near him at the moment, neither was true.
Mahfuzur Rahman, Journalist
The gas attack temporarily dispersed the crowd but by that time the Additional Superintendent of Police, Masood Mahmood had already been injured, a jeep had been smashed and there was intermittent brickbatting on the police force from the University premises and from the Medical College area. The situation was regarded as serious enough to call for the presence of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Dhaka Range), A. Z. Obaidullah. He arrived on the spot at about 1 pm. There he met the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police and found that a crowd was collected on the road in front of the University and the Medical College extending almost up to the Assembly House.
Warnings by the District Magistrate, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police and the Superintendent of Police went unheeded and the crowd intensified its attack on the police and showers of brickbats were hurled at them. When dispersed by gas attacks, they merely retreated temporarily into the University area - their "sanctuary" and gathered for a fresh attack. They continued to play a "cat and mouse" game with the police, and put the grenades and shells out of action by pouring water upon them.
The main focus of trouble appeared to be at the gate of the Medical College and as such the police force was primarily concentrated there and received the most attention. Between 2 and 2.30 pm the situation developed more serious and the police were forced to take shelter behind the shops on the western side of the Secretariat Road.
The students remembered that the budget session of East Bengal Legislative Assembly was scheduled to start soon and decided to prevent the ministers from reaching the Assembly Hall (at present, part of Jagannath Hall, University of Dhaka).
Maulvi Aulad Hossain, a member of the Legislative Assembly, was intercepted on his way to the Assembly and was forced to drive into the Medical College Hostel compound. He was compelled to sign a paper that Bengali should be one of the State languages and also that he witnessed the police brutality and injuries to young boys even though he hadn't seen any. He was freed by 9 pm.
The most high profile minister to be stopped was though the minister for communication Hassan Ali. He was passing by in his car on the way to the Assembly along with Maulana Abdullah-al-Baqui, the President of the Provincial Muslim League. His car was stopped by the crowd and his tyres were deflated. Two young men got into the car, one by the left door, the other by the right door and demanded them to go with them into the Medical College Hospital. Maulana Abdullah al-Baqui got out of the car to follow the order but was swiftly pulled back by Hassan Ali. Eventually, they were rescued by the police and escorted to the Assembly. However, Hassan Ali sustained injury to his head by a brick as the jeep drove away.
Keeping in mind their objective to proceed towards the East Bengal Legislative Assembly Hall which was in session at 3.20 pm, the agitated students tried to clear their path by continuing to brick the police. This resulted in number of casualties including injuries to Deputy Inspector-General, the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police and the Additional Superintendent of Police. As the situation intensified, District Magistrate Qureshi ordered the police to open fire.
The result was tragic.
From 3 pm onwards that the Police found the situation was slipping beyond their control. A second and last determined lathi charge was made by the Police at 3 pm "on the mob on the road". Apparently, one of these lathi charge was to 'save' Deputy Superintendent of Police Md. Siddique Dewan who was being "manhandled" by the crowd.
This time, however, the lathi charge did not have the desired effect and the police themselves were forced to retreat rather than the crowd. They were in danger of being "encircled and overpowered" by brick-throwing students who were closing in on the police force from two sides - from the University playground corner and from the Medical College Hostel.
I cannot part with this enquiry without recording the astonishment with which I learned that the East Bengal Police Force is not equipped with steel helmets and has only a few ancient A.R.P. helmets to draw on. It seems incredible that a force required to maintain law and order should have to take up "action stations" wearing cloth caps and stand its ground under showers of brickbats, stones and similar weapons, and Dacca, in its present state of constructional activity, presents potential law-breakers with a veritable arsenal of ammunition. Had the Police force under Mr.Idris been properly equipped, it is more than probable there would never have been any occasion for this enquiry.
Justice T. H. Ellis on the state of East Pakistan's police force
District Magistrate Qureshi, Deputy Inspector-General A.Z. Obaidullah and Superintendent of Police Muhammad Idris agreed that the situation was so desperate that it was necessary to open fire. As a last resort, a final warning was given but as this had no effect, under the direction of the District Magistrate and under the direct orders of the Superintendent of Police, the Police party fired on the rioters.
The situation was grave and the agitators came from all directions and brickbats come like showers and we had no place to take shelter and many police officers including constables were Injured. The situation was so grave that the D.M. [District Magistrate of Dhaka, S. H. Qureshi] passed to open fire.
The firing party consisted of 3 head constables and 30 constables who formed a square on the road between the Medical College gate and the Medical College Hostel gate. Five men on each flank faced the University ground and the Medical College Hostel in a kneeling position. The rest remained facing the north-west. Other members of the police party and the Superintendent of Police himself took up their position inside the square.
Firing was done under my command. I put my men in position and formed them in flanks of 5 men each facing the university ground corner and Medical College Hostel side. I ordered my men on both flanks to fire one round each. They did so. The crowd near the University playground, at the corner of the University playground—was held back and I found one man dropping down there, but the crowd from the Medical College Hostel side fell back momentarily and again advanced towards us with heavy showers of brickbats.
I ordered the 5 men in the flank to fire a volley of rounds. Then I ordered them to stop as soon as I saw this mob falling back. I ordered cease fire and then checked up ammunitions and found that in all 27 rounds were fired.
Muhammad Idris, Superintendent of Police (Dhaka)
In a 30-minutes blitz, which started at 3.20 pm and ended at 3.50 pm, one language demonstrator after another started falling on the ground in front of the Dhaka Medical College Hostel, with blood spilling from their bodies.
The police and para-military forces resorted to wide-spread tear gas shelling, clubbing, and finally shooting. As a result, several students were killed, hundreds were injured, and thousands were arrested. A reign of terror was let loose by the government but the language movement did not stop. The students killed were declared martyrs (shohid) as they had laid down their lives for their beloved mother tongue.
In the police encounter, the bloodstained body of Abul Barkat, a student of MA class at Dhaka University, collapsed on the ground. He was followed by Muhammad Salahuddin, a fellow student, who lost the skull of his head. Other known shaheeds (martyrs) are Abdul Jabbar, a tailor who had come from Gaffargaon, Mymensingh, to tend to a relative in hospital, Rafiquddin Ahmed, then a student of Debendra College in Manikganj, and Abdus Salam, a peon in an office. Salam would die from his injuries a few days after Ekushey February.
The exact number of deaths are not known. Many other known and unknown youths either lost their lives or were admitted in the hospital in a critical state. Hundreds were injured and thousands were arrested though the government alleged only 4 had suffered casualties. Others say 12 had died, including an unidentified rickshaw puller. Tajuddin Ahmad, who became the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh, wrote in his diary that there had been '4 spot deaths of bullets, 30 injured, 62 in jails', though he had not actually witnessed the deaths. Either way, Dhaka city's earth was made crimson by the blood of these innocents people. East Bengal would never be the same again.
The official version, given in a government circular and in the statement of the Chief Minister Nurul Amin on the floor of the provincial legislature was that the students used 'filthy language' to policemen, attacked vehicles, and forced shopkeepers to close their shops. It also stated that they threw brickbats at the police, injuring some policemen. The District Magistrate finally ordered the police to open fire. Even then, the crowd did not disperse but attacked the police. Thereupon, 'some more rounds were fired', killing one and injuring nine people. Three of the injured died later.
Those killed are considered the first shaheed (martyrs, pronounced 'shohid') of Bangladesh. It was the first time in history that a nation had to shed blood for the right to speak their native language.
The state made swift work of concealing their bodies. The bodies of those killed were not given to their families. The security forces had them buried in the eerie silence of night descending on the province after a day of tragedy.
Syed Badrul Ahsan, Journalist
A reign of terror was let loose by the government but the language movement did not stop. By noon, Dhaka Central Jail was full to capacity with arrested students and the remaining prisoners were taken by bus to a Jungle (Bhawal Jungle) and left there.
Amor Ekushe website
From this moment onward, Ekushey February would be known as 'Shaheed Dibosh' (Day of Martyrs) and become the symbol of Bengali nationalism and then secession.
The students lost lives for the future generation to sing with delight:
Moder gorob, moder aasha
A'mori Bangla basha.
Zeenat Khan, Writer
"Bangla Basha" by Otulproshad Sen
The firing did not dampen the spirit of the protestors. In fact, the reaction to the police killings was immediate and the opposite. The protest grew stronger and more intense. The rain of brickbats continued and a loudspeaker was utilised in the Medical College compound to stir up the crowd. The blood-stained clothing of the dead and wounded were held aloft and cries of revenge rocked the neighbourhood. As the news of the killings spread, disorder erupted across the city. People began to gather on the premises of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. In early evening the police made another lathi charge and the throng, exhausted by the day's hostilities and seeing the shadows of night falling, agreed to leave the area. But the demonstration was not over.
The news of the killing spread like wildfire throughout the city and people rushed in thousands towards the Medical College premises.
Talukder Maniruzzaman , author of "The Bangladesh Revolution and its Aftermath" (1980)
The same (Ekushey) evening, the Legislative Assembly held one of the stormiest sessions of its life. Nurul Amin defended the government, while Dhirendranath Datta, Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish, Khairat Hossain and Shamsuddin Ahmed opposed it vociferously. Six opposition members including Manoranjan Dhar, Boshontokumar Das, Shamsuddin Ahmed and Dhirendranath Datta requested that chief minister Nurul Amin visit wounded students in hospital and that the assembly be adjourned as a sign of mourning. This motion was supported by some of the treasury bench members including Maulana Abdur Rashid Tarkabagish, Shorfuddin Ahmed, Shamsuddin Ahmed Khondokar and Mosihuddin Ahmed. However, Nurul Amin refused the requests and urged the House to proceed with the planned agenda for the day. At this, all the opposition members of the Assembly simply walked out in protest.
For its part, the government, through press statements, stayed busy trying to demonise the students.
As a press note reported: "On the Nawabpur Road another unruly crowd overpowered the police officers in charge of the forces … Since it would not disperse, firing was resorted to in order to disperse it. A lathi charge was also made in the university area".
The authorities went to every extent possible to paint the students in dark colours. It even reported that Hasan Ali, the minister for communications, had been injured as a result of student violence.
The students held a condolence meeting at which Abul Kalam Shamsuddin, a member of the East Bengal Legislative Assembly and editor of the Daily Azad newspaper, delivered a speech, and a monument (Shaheed Minar) was hurriedly erected in honour of the martyred victims. The students again clashed with the police who demolished their minar.
To bring the situation under control, the government announced curfew in the evening and deployed the army in Dhaka. In response, with a view to providing the Language Movement with more efficient leadership, the "All Party State Language Action Committee" was reformed and a whole day strike, Gayebana Zanaza (Prayer for the deportees) and procession was announced for February 22nd. For subsequent 3 to 4 days Dhaka turned into a city of demonstrations and processions by thousands and lakhs of people chanting angry slogans against police atrocities, although curfew was still in force. Shops stayed closed and no vehicles were seen on the streets of Dhaka. Railway workers stayed away from work, which meant that trains did not leave Dhaka or enter it. Clashes between citizens and the police were reported from various parts of the city. Despite a heavy presence of police and soldiers on the streets, thousands of Bangalis poured out to condemn the government over the killings of February 21. Women students of Dhaka University, besides their male fellow students, came together to condemn what they called the barbaric act of the government. On the whole, the students demanded the resignation of the chief minister Nurul Amin.
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