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     Volume 6 Issue 7 | February 23, 2007 |

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Remembering a Bangali Hero

The case of Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Datta His role in Language Movement From Constituent Assembly 1948 to Killing in Mainamati Cantonment in 1971

Aroma Dutta

Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Datta embraced death to bring freedom to the people of this land. He demanded "Bangla" as the State Language, based on the country's own language and culture after the immediate creation of Pakistan. For this, he was brutally killed by the merciless, savage Pakistani Army.

Dhirendra Nath Datta was a nationalist, patriot, political and social leader, parliamentarian and a lawyer. He was born in Ramrail, Brahamanbaria on November 2, 1886. From his student days he was very active in freedom movements and struggles and accepted Gandhian non-violent tenets. He was actively involved with Gandhi and participated in non-cooperation movement to free the country. All through his life in his entire political and social struggle he followed the non-violent and secular path to life and actions. He actively participated in almost all the secular movements that were organised in his lifetime like a valiant warrior. He was imprisoned several times during the British Raj and Pakistani regimes.

He was the member of the first Pakistan Constituent Assembly in 1947. Datta was the first parliamentarian in the Constituent Assembly who, at great personal risk, demanded 'Bangla' as the State Language on February 25 1948 in Karachi.

Addressing the President he said in the Constituent Assembly, "Mr President, Sir, in moving this the motion that stands in my name -- I can assure in the spirit that this motion receives the fullest consideration at the hands of the members, I know, Sir, that Bangalee is a provincial language, but so far our state is concerned, it is the language of the majority of the people of the state and it stands on a different footing. Out of six crore and ninety lakh people inhabiting in this State four crore and forty lakh people speak the Bangalee language. So, Sir, what should be the state language of the State? The state language of the state should be the language which is used by the majority of the people of the State, and for that Sir, I consider that Bangalee language is a lingua franca of our State. The language of the State should be such which can be understood by the common man of the state. I know I am voicing the sentiments of the vast millions of our state and therefore, Bangalee should not be treated as a Provincial Language, it should be treated as the Language of the state".

This demand for "Bangla" as the State language of Pakistan was the foundation stone for the Language Movement, which led towards the birth of a Bangali Nation Bangladesh. He was the first to plead for Bangali Nationalism in a formal way. The price was his life!

After the pronunciation of the historic demand for Bangla as the State Language within a fortnight on May 11th 1948, Language Day was observed in the then East Pakistan. The spirit of movement was installed and the process continued. The momentum reached its height on 21st February 1952, where thousands of patriotic students participated in a big demonstration in Dhaka. Many were shot and killed by the ruling regime. They valiantly offered their lives for Bangla as the State Language and became Shaheeds (Immortal). That very incident became the milestone of the Language Movement, and the process of movement continued.

At the age of 85, he was picked up by the Pakistani Army from his Comilla residence in the dead of night on March 29, 1971 along with his son, Shaheed Dilip Datta, who was also tortured in front of his father and killed.

Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Datta was taken to the Mainamati Cantonment. Between arrest and his subsequent murder, he was brutally tortured for about a fortnight and blinded. He was beaten mercilessly. They broke his arms and legs and crippled him. He couldn't walk. He crawled in the prison cell. That also did not satisfy the Pakistani Army. His whole body was charged with bayonet stabbing; blood oozed from him. They did not spare his head either, it was full of bruises and deep cuts. Finally they blinded him by bayonet charges. After continuous torture, as a cripple and a blind man, he was dragged by a rope to a nearby ditch in the hills of Mainamati and was shot and killed. They covered the ditch with red soil of Mainamati, where he lies eternally.

Pakistan never forgave him for demanding "Bangla" as the State Language of Pakistan. That very incident of 25th February 1948 in the Constituent Assembly of Karachi haunted the soul of Pakistan for 23 years.

Shaheed Dhirendra Nath Datta did not die; a Shaheed never dies. He offered his life for creation of a new nation Bangladesh. His blood engraved for eternity 'Bangla' as the State Language for the New Nation Bangladesh. His existence lives through the birth of a new nation Bangladesh!


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