Even though Bangladesh is only about 40 years old, our cultural and political history span from decades to centuries old. As such, it is often difficult for one to appropriately comprehend the gravity that led to the establishment of our country and our language. It is even more difficult to find recent accounts of our history that is thoroughly researched and not skewed politically.
The book “Bengali Language Movement and Creation of Bangladesh” by distinguished scholars of sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, Anwar Dil and Afia Dil respectively, (not to mention husband and wife) is one such fabulous work. As Professor Kabir Chowdhury mentions, “It is a well-researched and objectively written book dedicated to our children and our children’s children so they may understand why the Bengali Muslims took such a prominent and leading role in the creation of East and West Pakistan in 1947 and then the happenings that led first to the Bengali Language Movement and then to the demise of East Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.”
The two professors dedicate their book to “the young men and women of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India so they may understand” and rightfully so. The book starts off with a brief ancient history of the land that is now Bangladesh; of how the name “Bang-la” came forth. The succinct historical profile is followed until 1905 – the first partition – from when the book delves into delicate details of the events.
The Bengali Language Movement is considered in great detail while the events read on like a factually precise story book. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to various perspectives from different groups of people during the Bangladeshi movement since 1954 – this includes that of the many Bengali journalists, literary writers, Rabindranath Tagore, Muslims, Communists, Hindus, the Leaders as well as that of A.K. Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Abul Hashim, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from East Pakistan. This chapter by itself makes this book extremely intriguing and valuable, especially for those interested in accurate objectively stated account of history. The book also does justice by incorporating the perspectives of the West Pakistan, Indian and British stakeholders in the Bangladesh movement. The final chapter of the book delves into detail analysis of the post-1971 Bangladeshi perspectives of the movement.
Another great trait of the book lies in the postscript or the appendices that it carries. From the text of the 1905 news of partition of Bengal first published in Calcutta press in July 06, to the text of the tentative agreement on Free Bengal signed by Sarat Chndra Bose and Abul Hashim in May 20, 1947 to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s statement at the Round Table Conference in Rawalpindi in March 10 1969; manuscripts of a total of 35 such important landmarks in the creation of Bangladesh is included.
The Bangladeshi Edition of the book has been published under Adorn Publications in January 2011 and is available for Tk. 2,000. It is a must read for anyone, especially the younger generations who did not see the war and are interested in the just history of our language and our nation. As the authors themselves noted, it is for us to understand.