Protest tide in Dhaka as Bangla remembers language martyrs


In the years leading up to the independence of India and the partition of the subcontinent, Bengali civil servants, students, academics and the middle class had spontaneously thrown their weight behind the demand for Bengali as one of the state languages. By the end of February 1948, the demand, spearheaded by the East Pakistan Student League founded by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman a month earlier, had spilled out on the streets.

Sixty-five years later, Mujib continues to be the driving force of a new generation of Bangladeshis at Shahbagh Square agitating for what they hope will be a better, freer, more equitable order. That their struggle won't be easy was demonstrated also by protests by their political opponents in Dhaka and other cities on Wednesday. Calls for hartals by Islamist student groups received varying responses in Rajshahi district; in Dhaka, anti-Shahbagh rallies were taken out by groups allegedly backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami.

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