The history of Bangladesh as a nation state began in 1971, when it seceded from Pakistan. Prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, modern-day Bangladesh was part of ancient, classical, medieval and colonial India. The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Islammade its first appearance between the 8th-10th centuries when Muslim missionaries arrived. Later, Muslim rulers reinforced the process of conversion by building mosques, madrassas and Sufi Khanqah.
The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan, part of the newly formed Islamic State of Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, as well as economic neglect by the politically dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman grew against West Pakistan, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which the Bengali people won with the support of India.
After independence, the new state endured famine, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress. The Bengali Language Movement The Bengali Language Movement, also known as the Language Movement Bhasha Andolon, was a political effort in Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan), advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of Pakistan. Such recognition would allow Bengali to be used in government affairs.
When the state of Pakistan was formed in 1947, its two regions, East Pakistan (also called East Bengal) and West Pakistan, were split along cultural, geographical, and linguistic lines. In 1948, the Government of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952.
The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest led by the Awami Muslim League, later renamed the Awami League. After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. In 2000, UNESCO declared 21 February International Mother Language Day for the whole world to celebrate, in tribute to the Language Movement and the ethno-linguistic rights of people around the world.
The Language Movement catalysed the assertion of Bengali national identity in Pakistan, and became a forerunner to Bengali nationalist movements, including the 6-point movement and subsequently the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In Bangladesh, 21 February is observed asLanguage Movement Day, a national holiday. The Shaheed Minar monument was constructed near Dhaka Medical College in memory of the movement and its victims. ———————– The History of Bangladesh