2011: Gita Biswas, a resident of FD Block and CPM councillor for three consecutive terms of the erstwhile Bidhannagar Municipality, succumbs to cancer on February 26. TMC’s Banibrata Banerjee wins the elections held in the ward thereafter.
2015: A Deer Park opens within New Town’s Eco Tourism Park. It has spotted deer and barking deer.
1869: Celebrated Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib dies on February 15 in Delhi, at the age of 71. Ghalib is famous for his ghazals, letters, poems on love and the declining Mughal empire around him. His works remain popular and are recited and sung by artistes of the Indian subcontinent even a century after his death.
1929: JRD Tata becomes India’s first licensed pilot on February 10. In 1932, he starts Tata Airlines, India’s first airlines. The company later gets acquired by the government and continues under the name of Air India.
1943: Howrah Bridge opens on February 3 and serves as a gateway to Calcutta from Howrah station. The cantilever bridge over the Hoogly river is the third longest of its kind at the time of construction and by 2017, handles daily traffic of about 1,00,000 vehicles and 1,50,000 pedestrians, making it the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.
1989- Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issues a fatwa on February 14 calling for the assassination of author Salman Rushdie. The fatwa is made as he considers the Indian-born Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses un-Islamic. Rushdie, who lives in the UK, is put under police protection.
2003: US Space Shuttle Columbia blows up on February 1. It kills all seven crew members including Indian-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla. The shuttle had left the earth on January 16 and was on its way back when it disintegrated upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.
2004: A group of Harvard University students starts a social networking site called thefacebook.com on February 4. Led by Mark Zuckerberg, the site gets its name from “face book” directories distributed among American students and membership to the site is initially restricted to Harvard students. The site grows, they drop the prefix “the” and in 2017, Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world with more than 65 billion users.
Sports and entertainment
1959: Mrinal Sen’s film Neel Akasher Neechey releases on February 20 and becomes the first film to be banned by the Indian government. The Bengali film starring Kali Banerjee, is set in the last days of the British in India and had political overtones. It was banned for two years.
1979: A boy is born to Italian professional motorcycle racer Graziano Rossi on February 16. Named Valentino Rossi, the boy follows his father’s footsteps and by 2017 wins nine Grand Prix World Championship titles. He is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest racers of all time.
2003: Pakistani bowler Shoaib Akhtar bowls the fastest recorded delivery in cricket on February 22. In a World Cup match between Pakistan and England in South Africa, Akhtar bowls a ball at 100.23 mph (161.3 kmph). England wins the game.
What is your most treasured personal memory of February?
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