Vol. 5 Num 916 Sun. December 24, 2006  

Remembering Kazi Golam Mahboob

FOR some time since the beginning of this year, members of the Bhasha Andolon Museum have been advocating the need to accord official recognition to the role played by Bhasha Sainik Kazi Golam Mahboob during the Language Movement. The attention of the Mayor of Dhaka was drawn to this through several articles and workshops held in different parts of the country. These efforts underlined that it was necessary to protect the memory of the Language Movement by honouring some of the principal participants who had given leadership during the critical period between 1948 and 1952.

Such a move was indeed a welcome step. It was also relevant given the direct impact that the Language Movement had on the future course of events that resulted in the emergence of a sovereign Bangladesh.

Consequently, it was most heartening to see that some action was taken in this regard.

On December 10, the Mayor of Dhaka unveiled a plaque on the entry point of old Road No 10 of Dhanmondi Residential Area, Dhaka and renamed that street after language movement veteran Kazi Golam Mahboob. This particular street was chosen because it contained the residence of the Bhasha Sainik.

December 23 marked the 79th birth anniversary of this late language activist. He was born in Kosba village of Bakergonj district in a well-known and respected Muslim family. His father, Kazi Abdul Majed is still remembered in his area not only for his pro-active role during the 1921 movement carried out in Barisal for achieving a more equitable arrangement for farmers but also for his prominent association in the election efforts of Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq during the elections of 1937.

I met the late Advocate Kazi Golam Mahboob for the first time after my father shifted his residence to Dhanmondi RA in 1965. I was struck with his deep love for Bengali literature and his humour. One particular afternoon, after the elaboration of the Six-Points by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (also a resident of the Dhanmondi RA), he took time to explain to some of us about the importance of the 1952 movement and its special place in the ethnic history of this country. There was passion and sincerity in his elucidation. It enabled us to understand what was happening around us -- a little better.

Bhasha Sainik Advocate Kazi Golam Mahboob passed his Matriculation Examination in 1942 and then proceeded to Kolkata to study in the Islamia College located in that city. One of his fellow students at that educational institution was Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was natural that both of them would be friends as both students had come to Kolkata from adjacent areas in the eastern part of Bengal. Subsequently, after studying Political Science, Mahboob obtained his Bachelor's degree in Law from Dhaka University.

One might say that Kazi Golam Mahboob's association with the Language Movement started in September 1947 with his participation in the activities of "Tamaddun Majlis." Like a few others, he believed that Bangla as a language reflected the ethos of the Bangalee people -- their literature and culture. He became involved in organising resistance to the idea that Urdu should be the sole official language of the then Pakistan.

A group was formed consisting of a few intellectuals. They all shared the view that it was important to create public opinion and generate pressure on the then political government so that this government would desist from taking any step that would affect the status of Bangla within Pakistan.

Some others associated within this group were Dr Nurul Huq Bhuyian, Mr Shahed Ali, Mr Sanaullah Nuri, Syed Nazrul Islam, Mr Abdul Matin Khan Chowdhury, Engineer Nurul Huda, Dr Mirza Mazharul Islam, Mr Abdur Rahman Chowdhury, Mr Abdul Mannan, Mr Khaleque Nawaz, Mr Aziz Ahmed, Mr Showkat Ali, Mr Md Toha, Mr Oli Ahad, Dr Ashkar ibne Shaikh, Dewan Md Ashraf and Professor Abdul Gafur.

On March 11, 1948, young activist Kazi Golam Mahboob organized a hartal in Dhaka in support of making Bangla one of the official languages of Pakistan. This was a wake-up call for the local Provincial Administration. Activists were termed as agitators and many were interned. Later, following agitation by students, they were released from jail. The Language Movement had started.

Kazi Golam Mahboob's activism within the framework of the Language Movement continued between 1949 and 1952. It gained momentum and came to a boil after Khawaja Nazimuddin, as Prime Minister, declared on January 26, 1952 that Urdu alone would be the official language of Pakistan.

He had already become a practicing lawyer by then. However, representatives of different political parties met to discuss this latest provocation and decided that he should be the Convener of the Combined All Party "Rashtrobhasha Sangram Parishad.

" It was also agreed that this Parishad would work unitedly to oppose efforts to demote the status of Bangla in the national context.

The first measure undertaken by this Committee was to call a strike in all the educational institutions on February 11, 1952. He was very closely involved in all the steps that led to February 21, 1952. Although no longer a student, he joined them in their demonstrations in the streets, always in the forefront to ensure that the impetus was not lost.

Later on in life, he took interest in politics but did not take any active part on behalf of any designated political party. He was associated with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party from 1978 but fell out with them during his tenure as President of the Supreme Court Bar Association in 1994. His views on the independence of the judiciary were not acceptable to the then BNP administration. This persuaded him to sever all links with political parties.

Many of us who knew him well, will remember him for his wit, patriotism and dedication to the cause of furtherance of Bangla as a language.

Muhammad Zamir is a former Secretary and Ambassador.