Language movement: The development of Bengali cultural consciousness

The language of the minority deprives Urdu of the right to be the official language with Urdu as the sole official language. Later, when the elite rulers offered to write Bengali in Arabic script, the Bengali Muslim middle class rejected it with intense hatred. And through this the Bengali Muslims made their passage as the real non-communal Bengali middle class. Therefore, the language movement made Bengali Muslims believe in non-communal consciousness and gave them the ability to understand the nature of independent Bengali nationalism.

The language movement was the first spontaneous protest and inspiration of the Bengali nation. After the partition of the subcontinent on the basis of biracialism, the Pakistani ruling class began to discriminate against the Bengali Muslim community by declaring the denial of statehood to the Bengali language. The subject of our pride and womb, the question of the right to the mother tongue, the Bengalis were very quick to form an immediate and appropriate resistance. In this case, the role of educated intellectuals, young politicians and students is written in golden letters in history. The rulers of the Muslim League, the spectacle of binationalism, completely failed to realize the power of the mother tongue of Bengali Muslims towards Bengal. Sheikh Mujib, a young student leader who worked as an organizer and campaigner for the control of the Calcutta riots and the protection of Muslims on 16 August 1947, and later in the Sylhet referendum, protested against declaring Urdu the only state language of Governor General Mohammad Ali Jinnah. No bursts into sound. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then General Secretary of the Islamia College Students’ Parliament, who had just returned from Calcutta, was the first to realize that it was not possible to realize and liberate the rights of the Bengali nation through this catastrophic and one-eyed Muslim League.
Chowdhury Rahman Ali, in his book ‘Now or Never’, first used the word ‘Pakistan’ in 1933 to demand the formation of a separate state for 30 million Muslims in five administrative units in northern India. The term ‘Pakistan’ consists of English P-Punjab, A-Afghan Province (Afghan with Balochistan and North-West Frontier Provinces), K-Kashmir, I-Indus (Sindh Province). Although the creation of Pakistan was proposed on religious grounds, it did not include the Bengali-speaking Bengali Muslim-majority province of Bengal. Later, on 23 March 1940, AK Fazlul Haque of Sher-e-Bangla, Lahore, proposed the formation of several independent and sovereign states with Muslim-majority areas in north-west and east India. In the Lahore resolution, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque demanded the formation of one independent country with Muslim-dominated northern provinces and another with eastern Muslim-dominated Assam and Bengal. Under the leadership of Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, the Bengali Muslims of East Bengal jumped into the movement for partition of the country mainly in the hope of establishing an independent united Bengal with the province of Assam Bengal proposed by Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and Sarat Basu.
When Muslim League President Mohammad Ali Jinnah took the initiative to introduce Urdu as the official language of the party in 1938, it did not succeed in opposing Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq. Later on 18 May 1948 another leader of the Muslim League Chowdhury Khaliquzzaman and Aligarh University Vice Chancellor Dr. Zia Uddin Ahmed proposed to adopt Urdu as the state language of Pakistan. Bengali scholar Dr. Several Bengali writers and intellectuals, including Muhammad Shahidullah, protested and spoke in favor of Bengal. Controversy arose over the question of the language before the partition of India. Although the struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims was fought together with the non-Bengali Muslim leaders, the Muslims of East Bengal were inspired by their own Bengali consciousness on the question of language. After the partition of the country, Dhaka, the capital of East Bengal, became the heart of the Bengali middle class. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Muslim middle class of East Bengal, unable to participate in the awakening of the Calcutta-centric middle class, was inspired by the emergence of a new middle class in Dhaka and other major cities. When the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act 1950 was passed through the efforts of Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq, the Bengali Muslim peasants got ownership of the land from the raiyati occupiers for the first time. As a result, Bengali Muslims in the true sense of the word passed to the middle class. Immediately after the partition of the country, when the question of state language arose, the Bengali youth became agitated with the mantra ‘Bengali in fish and Bengali in throat’ and became vocal in demanding Bengali language. At the conference of the East Pakistan Democratic Juba League held on 6 and 7 September 1947, some proposals on language were adopted. Language activist Gaziul Haque said, “After reading the proposals, the then student leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman demanded that Bengali be made the vehicle of writing and the language of the court of law in East Pakistan.” The East Pakistan Chhatra League was formed on 4 January 1947 under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur as the first organization for the political and cultural empowerment of the Bengali middle class in East Bengal. One of the 10-point demands of the Chhatra League, the lifeblood of the Bengali middle class students of East Bengal at that time, was the proposal to make Bengali the state language. The Bengali middle class gradually started its political and cultural activities mainly through the participation of Bengali educated Muslims in the language movement. At the Education Conference held in Karachi on 5 December 1948, a proposal was made to make Urdu the state language of Pakistan. Students of Dhaka University, an educated representative of the middle class society of East Bengal, erupted in protest on 2 September 1948 under the leadership of Professor Abul Kashem of Dhaka University. A cultural organization called ‘Tamaddun Majlish’ was formed. The Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad was formed in December 1948 by Nurul Haque Bhuiyan, one of the organizations awakening the Bengali middle class. Even if the Bengali Muslims get a new state, all government forms, money orders, stamps, documents, court verdicts are written in Urdu and English, so they are not freed from the feeling of subjugation. When it comes to selling land, documents have to be written in impenetrable Urdu, which is a thorn in the side of the Bengali Muslim middle class. On 23 February 1948, Dhirendra Nath Dutt, a Bengali member of the Congress party in the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, demanded the use of Bengali as one of the languages ​​of the Constituent Assembly in addition to Urdu and English. But it was rejected by the voice votes of the Muslim League members. In protest, students and the educated middle class in Dhaka went on strike on 25 and 29 February in East Bengal educational institutions. In other words, the Bengali middle class became politically active for the first time due to the demand for language. On 2 March 1948, the middle class students convened Shamsul Alam and reconstituted the Rashtrabhasha Sangram Parishad. During the strike on March 11, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Shamsul Haque, Oli Ahad, Kazi Golam Mahbub and many others were arrested. The movement against the language conspirators shook the middle-class educated society of Bengal and showed how fragile, discriminatory and reckless a state formed by religious ties at a distance of 3000 km is. This is the first time that a Bengali Muslim feels the urge to become an expatriate in his own country. The educated section of the middle class, including the young Bengali leader Mujib, jumped into the language movement to meet that fire. The Bengali middle class got its start from the language movement. The movement spread to Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Mymensingh and all other major cities. The wave of the movement hit the villages, the markets. The religious atmosphere opened up. To awaken the Bengali consciousness by realizing the Bengali middle class Muslim society. The leaders of the West Pakistani ruling class and the Muslim League of East Bengal declared Urdu as the only state language to impose the language of only 6 per cent of the population on 56 per cent of the population as a naked aggression of their aristocracy. The aggression of this Urdu language, which directly interfered with the freedom to use oral language in government work, forced the Bengali middle class to assimilate unfamiliar words like birds in cages. As a result, the first Bengali Muslim after the partition of the country erupted in protest of the aggression of the middle class, which changed the inner world of the Bengali Muslims and led to the transition from the Muslim middle class to the Bengali middle class. This transformation was well realized by the young leaders of the educated student community, especially Sheikh Mujib, the joint secretary of the Awami League, and his struggle for language to snatch the political rights of the converted Bengali middle class remained unused even after ’52. The language movement was the first spontaneous revolt of the Bengali Muslim middle class against the linguistic manifestations of the aristocracy of the elite Muslim League rulers. The elite always rejects the language of the common people when it comes to choosing language preferences. It is still through the predominance of English as the medium of instruction in the current upper class. But the danger came when the language of the majority was deprived with the sole predominance of the language of the elite as the medium of communication of the state and the government of Pakistan did just that. The language of the minority deprives Urdu of the right to be the official language with Urdu as the sole official language. Later, when the elite rulers offered to write Bengali in Arabic script, the Bengali Muslim middle class rejected it with intense hatred. And through this the Bengali Muslims made their passage as the real non-communal Bengali middle class. Therefore, the language movement made Bengali Muslims believe in non-communal consciousness and gave them the ability to understand the nature of independent Bengali nationalism. The collection of literature, poems, songs and Ekushey written in the context of the language movement made the educated section of the Bengali middle class aware of communal harmony and rights. In this case, the participation of female students in the morning ferries launched in the country and also in the cities of Mofasbal, demonstrates the mental advancement of Bengali middle class parents. This mental progressive maturity is also another crop of the language movement. Literature written in the context of language movement for our cultural development, especially Munir Chowdhury’s play ‘Kabar’, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury’s song ‘Amar Bahas Rakta Rangano’, Zaheer Raihan’s ‘Another Falgun’, Hasan Hafizur Rahman’s ‘Ekusher Sankalan’, Shamsur Rahman’s Sad alphabet ‘, etc. play an important role in our cultural development. “February 21, noon, where is the rain, where is the blood of blessings” – Al-Mahmoud wants to borrow the language, not only did the Bengali language explode in the language movement, but also in the Muslim mentality of the Bengali middle class to transcend Bengali nationalism and lay the foundation of non-communal independent nationalism. The movement has acted as a renaissance of Bengalis.

Nasser Mahmud: Writer and engineer.
[email protected]

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Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.

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