Friday, October 7, 2011

The Shaheed Minar (The National Language Martyr Monument)

The Shaheed Minar is a national language martyr monument of Bangladesh and it is established in the capital (Dhaka) for the martyrs, who were killed during the mother language movement on 21st February, 1952. On that day (February 21, 1952), at least dozens of students and political members were killed by the Pakistani police forces for the rightful place of Bangle (Bangla) language. The first Shaheed Minar was built on 22nd February 1952 but four days later on 26th February 1952, it was fully destroyed by the Pakistani police and army. But in 1963
a language martyr monument was reestablished by the Awami League government in that place. Again in 1971, Pakistani Army re-destroyed the national language martyr monument and finally after the liberation war of Bangladesh it is finally reestablished.

Here “Shaheed” means “Martyr” and “Minar” means “Monument”. On 22nd February 1952, the first Shaheed Minar was established by the Dhaka Medical College students near in the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and in the Dhaka University area. It is only 0.26 km away from the Chankarpul and 0.5 km away from the Shahbagh. It was built for the martyrs who given up their life for the rightful place of their mother tongue. The first Shaheed Minar was 10 feet by 6 feet. Sayeed Haider was the main planner and designer of the first Shaheed Minar and Pearu Sardar was the sponsor of the first Shaheed Minar. The Students of Dhaka Medical College started their planning at midnight on February 22 and on February 23 they started their work. They also finished their work on that day but on the 26th February 1952, Pakistani police and army destroyed the first Shaheed Minar. The name of the first Shaheed Minar was “Shaheed Smritistombho”.

According to the formation of local government by the United Front (led by the great leader A.K. Fazlul Haque and the Awami League), the anniversary of 21 February in 1956 was observed openly and widely and they planned to rebuild a new monument. As a result in November 1957, the construction was started under the famous architect Hamidur Rahman, who designed that Shaheed Minar. He had designed a massive Shaheed Minar complex in the yard of the Medical College Hostel. But this construction was not finished till 1971. Though some columns and other rails, footprints and some of the murals were completed but it was fully destroyed in the Operation Searchlight in 1971.

In 1972, after the liberation war of Bangladesh, a committee was again started their work to rebuild the present Shaheed Minar. According to the 1963 design, the construction was once again completed quickly. In 1976, a new design was approved but it is not implemented.

The new extraordinary design includes a basement with 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) for mural representing the history of the Language Movement and four small and one big column to symbolize the mother with her fallen sons standing on the monument’s central dais and the red sun shining behind. This nice piece of architecture made with marble stones. The staircases and the barrier are highlighted with white color for creating a divine look. The fence on both sides is painted with lines from poems of legendary poets in iron letters. Due to hurried repair of the Shaheed Minar, it is constructed incorrectly. The height of the column was shorter and the big column’s head bent more than originally planned. Besides this, the proportions of different parts of the monument were not properly maintained. The High Court issued nine directives for the maintenance and renovation of the Shaheed Minar and asked the Public Works Department to establish a museum and a library on its premises On August 25 2010.

Now all national, mourning, cultural and other activities occurred each year regarding 21 February is centered on the Shaheed Minar. It is one of the great tourist attractions of Dhaka, not only Dhaka or Bangladesh but also the whole world. It has a very significant place in the social and cultural mechanism.