Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?



Pradip Kumer Dutta
Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?

Language Movement of Barak Valley: How far is full recognition?

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We mean the language movement in Bangladesh after the British rule in Pakistan in 1948 and the movement to establish the status of the Bengali language through the self-sacrifice of twenty- two immortal language martyrs. February 21 is a landmark day for the world language movement. Bengalis of East Bengal were inspired by the success of that movement. The discriminatory treatment of Pakistan has fueled the independence movement. We got the freedom of Bangladesh as a result of many movements, struggles and above all the indescribable hardships of the great liberation war and sea-like sacrifices and infinite bravery.

Much later, towards the end of the 20th century, Mother Language Lovers of the World was formed in Vancouver, Canada, under the leadership of Bangladeshi Canadian expatriates Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam. With the initiative and tireless efforts of this organization and the overall cooperation of the Government of Bangladesh, the day has been recognized as International Mother Language Day in the World Assembly today. The pledge announced by the United Nations today is to establish every language in the world in a place of dignity and not to let even one of the existing 7,000 languages be lost. Meanwhile, many languages, along with their culture, archeology and history, have been erased from the face of the earth due to hegemony and lack of awareness among the masses.

Therefore, we have to understand, despite having a golden history and success of the language movement, only the Bengalis of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) are not the only ethnic groups who have struggled and sacrificed their lives for the language. Half a millennium ago, the Spanish imperialist power in South America called Maya, Aztec, and Inca developed at that time. The nations of civilization were destroyed by genocide. They destroyed all the books of ten thousand local libraries. Today, only three books of the original Maya language are preserved (in Mexico City, Madrid and Dresden). Couldn't save the libraries and gradually destroyed their culture and ethnicity.

The Bengalis of Manbhum, a part of the Santal Pargana of the Bengal Presidency, have made a significant contribution to the preservation of the status of the language of the Bengali-speaking people. At the cost of many years of struggle, blood and life, they have established their demands. After that, the movement to protect the dignity of Bengali language started in Cachar, Assam. The first woman martyr Kamala Bhattacharya who gave her life for the Bengali language has lost her life in this movement.

In 1961, the Bengali people of Assam's Barak Valley joined the movement to uphold the status of their mother tongue. Although the majority of Barak's people speak Bengali, it was decided in 1961 to make Ahamia the sole state language of Assam. The Bengalis of Barak flourished. Bengali language got the status of one of the official languages of Barak Valley.

The Manbhum language movement has a long history. Manbhum district of Santal Parganas was Bengali dominated but belonged to Bihar for a long time. After India's independence, the Bengali speakers were under pressure due to the strictness of Hindi usage there. They jumped into the movement to uphold the dignity of the mother tongue. With the success of this movement which lasted for eight years from 1948, Purulia district was formed on November 1, 1956 with the Bengali speaking region of Manbhum. Purulia was taken from Bihar and merged with West Bengal. The door of using their mother tongue Bengali was opened before them.

Now back to the history of May 19. Assam's Barak Valley has been home to Bengali speaking communities since ancient times. At one time, most of the Dimasa people in this area belonged to the Cachar kingdom. Dimasa patronized royalty and Bengali language. Over time, when the British partitioned India, Sylhet, a part of Assam province, became part of East Pakistan. Cachar district is formed with part of Sylhet and Dimasa hilly and plain areas. This district has now been divided into four new districts namely Cachar, Hailakandi, Karimganj and North Cachar Hill District (Dima Hasao).

Since the partition of the country in 1947, the residents of Cachar district of Barak Valley have been subjected to discrimination. Assam is for the Ahamias and the Bengalis are outsiders there. That trend still exists. A class of politicians also floated in the tide of nationalism. The Bangalee Kheda Movement was also formed at one time. Even though those movements and violence were suppressed by the government, such problems kept cropping up from time to time.

After India's independence, members of the Assam State Legislative Assembly could speak in Bengali, Hindi or English. The first blow came on language. The Bengali people of Assam protested and resisted the declaration of Ahamiya as the only state language, the attempt to introduce it as a medium of education and the right to speak in Bengali in the Legislative Assembly. Assam State Government did not go for any acceptable solution. They adopted the policy of Ahmadiyya nationalism giving preference to narrow minded leaders. Bengalis also started organizing.

It can be assumed that the leaders of the movement were inspired by the success of the Dhaka language movement and Manbhum language movement. At the end of 1960, the Assam Legislative Assembly passed the Language Bill. The final nail has been hammered into the coffin. The Bengalis were blown away. The continuous movement continued. Satyagraha, non-cooperation, hartal, rail stop, Sankalpa Divas, Barak Valley became turbulent in the non-violent movement of Itakara. At one stage of this movement, on May 19, 1961, Satyagrahis, who had been agitating since dawn, gathered at the railway station of Barak, the center of Silchar. Thousands of student youth mobs occupied the railway station premises and railway lines. Unable to remove them, the government resorted to brutal repression. Police forces resorted to indiscriminate firing to disperse the crowd. A total of 11 students including the world's first female language martyr Kamala Bhattacharya were killed. They are known as eleventh language martyrs.

Their sacrifice was not in vain. In the Barak Valley, Bengali language gets the status of the second state language. Shaheed Minar with portraits of martyrs was installed in front of Silchar railway station. Along the way, Shahid Minar of the same shape later spread in the entire Barak Valley. Silchar railway station has been renamed as Janata Bhasha Shaheed Railway Station. However, it has not yet received full government recognition.

The self-sacrifice of activists including eleventh martyrs to protect the dignity of Bengali language has entered the pages of history. But do Bengalis of all areas have the right idea about this language movement? The answer is 'no'. It is our duty to take the initiative to tell the stories of their sacrifices so that the future generations will be inspired by their fighting spirit and learn to fight against all injustices. The eleventh language of the Barak valley remains a martyr. May the rights and dignity of all mother tongues including Bengali be upheld.

Many who participated in that movement are still alive. Many of those who led are alive. At the same time, it is not difficult to find witnesses. However, they will no longer be among us naturally within the next century. Now is the perfect time to record their interview. Adequate research needs to be done on the movement, its martyrs and martyrs' families. Heroes need to be honored appropriately. We still have a long way to go to uphold the status of Bengali language and Bengali speaking people globally. We need more heroes. A hero does not grow in the soil where the hero is not respected.

Author: Essayist and Traveler 

   

Benazir Ahmed resigned from the ‘Boat Club’



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com Dhaka:
photo: collected

photo: collected

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Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed has resigned from the post of Savar Boat Club President. On June 13, he left this post by sending a letter to the club's advisor, Rubel Aziz.

Boat Club executive committee member businessman Nasir U Mahmood confirmed the matter to the media.

Nasir said that Benazir Ahmed, who is in charge of the president of the boat club, wrote to the advisor of the club, Rubel Aziz, that he is out of the country with his family on urgent work. Due to which he is not able to perform the duties of the president of the club.

Nasir said that after the resignation of Benazir Ahmed, Rubel Aziz has been given the responsibility of acting president.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was probing the assets of former IGP Benazir Ahmed and his family. Meanwhile, he and his family left the country on May 4. Benazir was IGP from April 2020 to September 2022 and Director General of RAB from January 2015 to April 2020. He also served as Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) for a long time.

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4 dead, 1 missing in Rangamati lightning strike



District Correspondent, Barta24.com, Rangamati:
photo: collected

photo: collected

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At least three people were killed when a domestic passenger boat was hit by lightning along with a sudden storm while traveling in Kaptai Lake in Longdu in Rangamati. The boat driver is still missing in this incident. At the same time, another housewife was killed by lightning in Chairman Tila of Karlyachhari under Langadu Upazila.

Longadu police station OC Harunur Rashid confirmed the matter and said that they died due to lightning while returning home from Maini Bazar to Bhamanyadam on Saturday. An unnatural death case will be filed in this regard.

On Saturday (June 15) on the way home after work at Qurbani haat, an engine driven boat was struck by lightning at a place called Mina Bazar in Longadu Upazila. Four people including the boat driver were killed on the spot. All four are residents of Bhasanyadam area of Bhasanyadam union.

The deceased are Ziaul Haque (50), Akkas Ali (45), Obaidullah (30), Bachchu Mia (30).

Three people have been found in the incident, but the boat driver Akkas Ali has not been found yet. The search for missing Akkas Ali is ongoing.

On the other hand, a housewife named Rina Begum (35) was killed by lightning in the Chairman Ghat area of Longdu Karlyachari.

On Saturday (June 15) at 3:00 p.m., the wife of Ibrahim, Karlyachi Chairman of Attarchhara Union, Tila No. 1 Ward, died due to lightning while standing on the balcony of her living room.

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Savar leather industrial city ready, target 1 crore 10 lakh pieces



Md. Kamruzzaman, Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com Savar(Dhaka):
photo: barta24.com

photo: barta24.com

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Last-minute preparations are underway in Savar leather industry centering on Eid-ul-Azha. Cleaning is going on in the factories. Preparations have been completed by BSCIC and Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) authorities. Bangladesh Tanners Association has said that the target of collecting 1 crore 10 lakh pieces of leather has been taken this year.

On Saturday (June 15) in Harindhara area of Savar's Tentuljhora union, BSCIC leather industry town was seen, intensive preparations are going on in the factories. Salt is being brought to a factory. Chemicals are being brought somewhere. Somewhere else the machineries are being checked as waste is being removed from factories and roadsides. Similarly, the drains are also being cleaned.

On the other hand, the authorities said that the maintenance work of the machinery of CETP has been done. BSCIC authorities have already fixed a volunteer team of 50 people to collect skins.

Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) General Secretary Shakhawat Ullah said, we have set a target of collecting 1 crore to 1 crore 10 lakh pieces of leather from cows, goats, buffaloes and sheep this year. This year the price of salt is also very stable. The concern this year is the heat. Since the season of sacrifice is hot and this year it is hotter, so those who collect skins all over the country will store the skins according to proper rules, then they will get a fair price for the skins. Besides, the condition of CETP is better than ever before.

Regarding the preparation of the leather industrial city, the Executive Engineer of Savar's BSCIC leather industrial city Mahfuzur Rahman Rizoan said, in this year's Eid-ul-Azha, we have set a target of collecting 6 lakh skins in the industrial city. Besides, we have come to know that the target of collection of 6 lakh pieces has been taken in the area around our leather industry. We have formed a team of more than 50 volunteers for the smooth entry of leather into the leather industry city. It will start working from 3 pm on the day of Eid. Hopefully by this time our leather harvesting and leather processing will be done smoothly.

Managing Director of Dhaka Tannery Industrial Estate Weight Treatment Plant Company Limited Golam Shahnewaz said, we have prepared extensively for the Eid-ul-Azha. Besides, we have preparations throughout the year. Our Common Chrome Recovery Unit (CCRU) was closed for the last one year. But last February we introduced 50% of its chrome separation section. The remaining 50% will be operational within the next month.

He said, the overhauling that we do every year, during Qurbani, it is being done more extensively this year. From our EPS 1, 2 and 3 to Equation, Effluent Pumping Station and Thickening Tank we have prepared everything to increase our efficiency.

Dhaka Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate Anisur Rahman said, Dhaka district administration has taken an exceptional initiative in preserving leather this year. Its main function is to make people aware. The district administration is distributing leaflets through the stalls of the two cities of Dhaka in coordination with BSCIC on 20 cow market. Rover Scouts, including our staff, are campaigning how to skin, how to salt.

He said that arrangements have also been made for the transportation of leather. In every hour the quality of the leather decreases. As a result, special measures have been taken at Posta so that the leather transporting vehicles do not have to be affected by traffic jams on the road, and the leather can reach the warehouse quickly. And in the leather industry city of Savar, in coordination with OCs and UNOs, measures have been taken to ensure that there is no traffic jam there.

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Irrigation pumps will run on solar power: Prime Minister



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the government wants to bring the country's irrigation system completely under solar power.

She said, I want to make the irrigation system completely dependent on solar power. This may require some investment initially, but will reduce costs in the long run.

The Prime Minister said this at the inauguration of the tree plantation program organized by the Bangladesh Krishak League at Ganabhaban on Saturday (June 15) and the prize distribution ceremony.

Stating that the government is subsidizing the power sector, the Prime Minister said that an excellent system has been invented. An umbrella equipped with solar panels will be placed over a well where rainwater will be stored. Irrigation will be done with solar energy.

She mentioned that a huge amount of land will not be wasted for introducing this system. She further said that currently solar panels are being manufactured and we can install solar panels in nearby villages for irrigation.

Sheikh Hasina said that the government will take the country towards industrialization by developing an agriculture-based economy. The Prime Minister called upon the leaders and workers of his party to play an important role in making Bangladesh green.

She called for planting saplings along river embankments, coastal areas, roadsides, rooftops and houses to strengthen the green movement.

Krishak League President Sameer Chand and Acting General Secretary Biswanath Sarkar also spoke on the occasion. Shamima Shahriar, joint general secretary of Krishak League, moderated the program.

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