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Language bonhomie on border

Agartala, Feb. 21: Around 30,000 people of India and Bangladesh gathered at Akhaura land customs station this morning, 3km west of here, to observe International Mother Language Day.

The programme, which began at 8.30am, generated an emotional response from the Bengali-speaking population on both sides of the border.

Tripura’s delegation comprised information minister and poet Anil Sarkar, MLA Pabitra Kar and commissioner of the information and culture department Santanu Das along with a host of artistes and performers.

From the Bangladesh side, Brahmanbari MP Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury, leading poet and president of Dhaka-based Bangla Academy, Jaidul Hossain, were present along with their cultural delegation.

Shamina Khatun, 17, of Bangladesh regaled the crowd with her rendition of Bhupen Hazarika’s immortal number “Ganga amar maa, Padma amar maa”. She followed it up with a song specially composed by Sirajuddin Ahmed to commemorate the Language Movement of 1952 and the killing of eight students in Dhaka recently.

From the Indian side, Tithi Debbarman, Chandralekha Baidya and other artistes joined voices to recite Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Aji e prabhate rabir kar” followed by melodies of Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Artistes also performed Tagore’s dance dramas to the delight of the audience.

Obaidul Chowdhury and Jaidul Hossain attributed the current mass agitation at Dhaka’s Shahbag Square and Prajanma Chattar to a new awakening among the people regarding the freedom movement of 1971 and its values.

“This movement is not confined to Dhaka and other urban centres but has spread to the rural hinterland of Bangladesh. We are marching ahead to form a new Bangladesh through this cultural revolution,” said Hossain. He asserted the movement would lead to a new nationalism based on linguistic and cultural identity of the people.

The authorities in both the two countries also agreed to open the border leading to hundreds of Indians and Bangladeshis entering their neighbouring nations.

Large groups of Bangladeshi youths were seen roaming the streets of Agartala and gazing at major landmarks like Ujjayanta Palace and the Pakistani tank installed in the post office square in the heart of the town, a gift to residents from the Indian army seized during the 1971 war. Similarly, hundreds of people from Tripura entered as far as Brahmanbari town within Bangladesh.


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