Member, Consituent Assembly
We, the Students of Dhaka University, who initiated the language movement in East Bengal three years ago, who are now more determined than ever to secure for Bengali the status of state language of Pakistan, will take this opportunity, while you are all assembled at Karachi, to press once more our legitimate claim.
The movement is going to be pretty old and it is unfortunate that while our whole energy should be harnessed in nation building activities, the Central Government in refusing to accept Bengali as a prospective state language has create distrust and apprehension in the minds of the Majority of Pakistan People.
The apprehension is legitimate and until and unless it is removed it is sure to alienate a people without whose whole-hearted co-operation the dreams of unity and solidarity will never materials.
Out of the Principle of self-Determination came Pakistan and the young state is still struggling to achieve freedom in the real sense of the term. To be completely free, materially and intellectually, a long way is still to be traversed and as one of its first obstacle the formidable weight of English language is to be lifted to make room for languages of the people. No free people can afford to neglect its mother tongue which alone is efficient to help develop the intellectual faculties inherent in every man. The domination of an alien language is the worst kind of domination and most efficient to keep a people servile; and the British knew this when they ousted Persian and introduced English in the early part of the nineteenth century.
In the early months of independence the official circles in Karachi were talking of Urdu in terms of the future state language of Pakistan. People in this wing of Pakistan were scandalized when they found how completely the Centre forget about Bengali. There rose an immediate uproar of protest from the nooks and corners of East Bengali in schools and colleges, in the Press and the university. The whole Province rose in protest against the highhanded decision. There were meetings; students paraded by the Government to terrorise the youths of East Bengal and still the battle was half won when khawja Nazimuddin,the then Chief Minister of the Province had to stop and assure the people that so far as the Province was concerned Bengali was to be the official language and the medium of instruction; and he also promised that his Government will put the case of Bengali in the Centre so that it may have its place side by side with Urdu.
The Central Government is still to declare its policy clearly and categorically. It will be committing the greatest mistake if, in selecting the state language, it goes against the principles of democracy. When the state has only one language the problem is simple. When it has many, the question of preference arises. lf the language spoken by the majority is also sufficiently developed and has a good literature it can without hesitation be accepted as the state language. lf the linguistic, minorities are clamorous we have several state languages, as in Canada and Switzerland.
In the case of Pakistan the obvious choice is of course Bengali. It is the language of the majority (56%) of Pakistan's population are Bengali speaking) and it is the richest language not only of Pakistan but of the whole of Indo Pakistan sub-continent. It has a history over thousand years old and it has a wonderful vitality to develop and absorb foreign influence. In the last hundred years its development has been phenomenal and it draws its nourishment from the sap of the soil. Not only that, it has its intricate roots of connection with Sanskrit, Hindustani, Urdu and Persian. It is also the langrage which has most completely absorbed the spirit of Western Literature. Basically eastern in or in origin, it is of all the languages of the sub-continent the most modern and western in outlook. Urdu, which is important men in the Minister and in the Secretariat happen to be Urdu speaking, offers a poor contrast to Bengali. It id not the mother tongue of any of the provinces of Pakistan and is equally alien to Bengalese, Punjabi, Sandi, Balch and Frontier men. Urdu is a symbol of dying culture. It has hardly any foothold and it is doubtful whether it could survive without princely patronages. Even Irbil, the dreamer of Pakistan and the great Urdu poet of the century found it inadequate for his difficult thoughts.is writing his great philosophical poem "Asrar-i-Khudi'' he has to discard Urdu in favor of Persian and he frankly admits.
Because of the loftiness of my thought
Persian alone is suitable to them.
(Secrets of the Self.P.15.lines 183-184).
Such a language whose efficacy as the state language is very much doubted from political and linguistic points of view and which presents formidable obstacles in the way of printing cannot be state language of Pakistan. Several Points are urged in favour of Urdu from Interested quarters. It is claimed to be an Islamic Language. We refuse to believe that any language under heaven can be Islamic or Christian or Heathen. If Urdu is Islamic, Bengali is equally so. Nay it is more Islamic as a larger number of Muslims speak Bengali. Secondly, Urdu is urged to be the uniting factor between the different provinces of Pakistan. If this is to mean that Urdu can serve as the lingua franca between the multilingual provinces then nothing could be more absurd as it is equally historical growth; it is never the artificial creation of a government.
Thus neither as an Islamic language which is absurd nor as the lingua franca which is fictitious, can Urdu claim to be the state language of Pakistan.
In spite of all this if Urdu is accepted as the only state language, it is sure to give rise to serious problems. (1) It will create privileged class in the same way as English did because it will not be possible for the vast majority who do not speak Urdu to master it overnight. This will facilitate the way of exploitation of the many by the few. (2) It will nourish disaffection among Pakistan's is general and Bengalees in particular, and it will strike at the root of national integrity without which there is no future for our country. Third and lastly the material and intellectual development which all go to enrich the national culture will be jeopardized. A people must learn and think in its own language. To deny one one's natural language is to deny everything. And to rob a people of its language is to render freedom a myth.
Lastly, we have only to repeat what we have made clear time and again. If Pakistan is to have only one state language it must be Bengali, if more than one. Bengali must be one of them. We are at a loss how this simple logic fails to penetrate the brains of our leaders. There must be some thing wrong somewhere. Otherwise this unjust and step motherly attitude of the Centre towards the Province of the golden fiber is difficult to explain.
The dreamers of Karachi deaf to the groan of the starving primary school teachers of East Bengal are squandering thousands of rupees over Arabic Centers in the province. They are lending every possible support to Urdu with the fond hope that someday it will replace English and are playing the mischievous game of imposing Arabic script over Bengali. We the students of Dhaka University, Claiming the immediate implementation of the provincial polity in the matter of language and demanding Bengali to be the state language of Pakistan have given a tough fight and are prepared to fight to the last. We shall never accept Urdu as the only state language. We are sworn to expose the great conspiracy which aims at reducing East Bengal to the state of a colony.
We remind them and the people’s representatives who are at the helm of the affairs that until and unless the claim of Bengali is fully established in the province as well as in the Centre, the students of Dhaka University shall not rest.
Date 11th April, 1951 Convener, Dhaka University
State Language Committee of Action