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The Bengali Language Movement was a political movement in former East Bengal advocating for the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of Pakistan in order to allow its use in government affairs, education, media, currency, stamps, etc.

After partition, 44 million of East Pakistan’s 69 million people spoke Bengali. However, the language was never given much importance and was dominated by the West through declaring Urdu, and English as the sole national languages. Many disagreed, writing that if Urdu was made the national language, many educated Bengalis would be considered “illiterate”, and ineligible for government positions. The movement gained momentum after 1948 when Jinnah reiterated his Urdu-only policy, claiming that it represented the Muslims of the region and that those who claimed otherwise were enemies of the state.

The movement reached its height in 1952, with university students protesting for multiple days. They were met with violence from the authorities, with the police killing many students, even shooting at a mourning rally. The movement continued until Bangladesh finally got independence in 1971.

I am always sorry when any language is lost because languages are the pedigrees of nations.

-Samuel Johnson