Shaheed Minar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Central Shaheed Minar
কেন্দ্রীয় শহীদ মিনার
General information
Type Monument
Architectural style Modern
Location Dhaka, Bangladesh
Address Dhaka Medical College campus, Dhaka
Design and construction
Architect Hamidur Rahman

The Shaheed Minar (Bengali: শহীদ মিনার Shohid Minar lit. “Martyr Monument”) is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate those killed during the Language Movement demonstrations of 1952.

On February 21, 1952, dozens of students and political activists were killed when the Pakistani police force opened fire on Bengali protesters who were demanding equal status to their native tongue, Bangla. The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka. A makeshift monument was erected on February 23[1] by students of University of Dhaka and other educational institutions, but soon demolished on February 26[2] by the Pakistani police force.

The Language Movement gained momentum and after a long struggle, Bangla was given equal status as Urdu. To commemorate the dead, the Shaheed Minar was designed and built by Hamidur Rahman, a Bangladeshi sculptor. The monument stood until the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, when it was demolished completely during Operation Searchlight. After Bangladesh gained independence, it was rebuilt.

At present, all national, mourning, cultural and other activities occurred each year regarding 21 February is centered around the Shaheed Minar.

History

The First Shaheed Minar

The first Shaheed Minar, built on February 22, 1952. It was demolished by Pakistan Police and Army four days later.

The first Shaheed Minar was built immediately after the events of February 21. According to Dr. Sayeed Haider, a main planner and the designer of the first Shaheed Minar, the decision to build it was first taken by the students of Dhaka Medical College. Shaheed Minar is situated near Dhaka Medical College Hospital and in the Dhaka University area. It is adjacent to the Mathematics department of Dhaka University. It is only 0.5 km away from Shahbag and 0.25 km far from Chankharpul. Shaheed Minar is an outstanding monument of Bangladesh. It was built to tribute the martyrs who given up their life for language. The main incident had been occurring inside of Dhaka medical college hospital. So a decision was taken to build a memorial adjacent to DMCH. The planning started at midnight on February 22 and the work started the next day. This Minar was sponsored by Pearu Sardar, one of the old dhaka panchayet sardars when some of the students asked his help at the midnight of 22 February to contribute the raw materials needed to build the monument. Although curfew was in place, students started building the Minar in the afternoon of February 23. They worked through the night and finished it at dawn. A hand written paper was attached to the Minar with ‘Shaheed Smritistombho’ written on it. The original Minar measured 10 feet (3.0 m) by 6 feet.[3] The Minar was inaugurated by the father of Sofiur Rahman, killed during the massacre. It was demolished within a few days by the police and Pakistani Army.[4] Some small memorials on the same model were built in other places of the country.[5]Two years after the first monument was destroyed by the police, a new Shaheed Minar (Monument of Martyrs) was constructed in 1954 to commemorate the protesters who lost their lives. This minaar (monument) was inaugurated by Natyaguru Nurul Momen. Work on a larger monument designed by the architect Hamidur Rahman began in 1957 with the support of the United Front ministry.

Shaheed Minar (1963-1971)

Following the formation of local government by the United Front – led by A.K. Fazlul Huq and the Awami League, the anniversary of 21 February in 1956 was observed openly and widely [6] and it became possible to construct the new monument. Famous architect Hamidur Rahman created the design of Shaheed Minar under which construction was started in 1957. Hamidur Rahman’s model was a huge complex on a large area of land in the yard of Dhaka Medical College Hostel. The enormous design included a half-circular column to symbolize the mother with her fallen sons standing on the monument’s central dais. Yellow and deep blue pieces of stained glass, symbolizing eyes reflecting the sun, were also to be placed in the columns. The marble floor was designed to reflect the moving shadows of the columns. The basement of the Minar also included a 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) fresco depicting the history of the language movement. A railing decorated with Bangla alphabet was to be constructed in front. Two footmarks coloured red and black, indicating the two opposite forces, were also in the design. Besides this a museum and a library were also included in Rahman’s design. A fountain shaped like an eye was also to be constructed.[5] Rahman specifically designed the materials of the monument to withstand the area’s tropical climate.

Construction started in November 1957 under the supervision of Hamidur Rahman and Novera Ahmed. Most of the work, including the basement, platform, some of the columns with the rails, footprints and some of the murals were also finished when the Martial Law was introduced and construction was forced to a halt. Construction work was completed in 1963, leaving much of Rahman’s design unfinished. It was inaugurated on February 21, 1963 by the mother of Abul Barkat, Hasina Begum. The Minar was severely damaged by Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The columns were destroyed during the fighting.[7] The Pakistani Army crushed the Minar and placed over the rubble a signboard reading “Mosque.”

Re-establishment of Shaheed Minar and Current State

In 1972, a committee headed by the then president Abu Sayeed Chowdhury was formed and renovation work began. The original sketch was ignored and the Construction and Building Directorate followed the 1963 design.[8] The construction was once again completed quickly, according to the abridged design of 1963.[5] The murals destroyed by the Pakistani army were not restored and the basement was sealed off. Hamidur Rahman’s original design was not approved by the directorate in the renovation work. In the mid-eighties, the monument underwent further renovation under the supervision of the then Department of Architecture chief architect SHM Abul Bashar, which extended the area of the Shaheed Minar premises, giving it a square shape from a triangular one. Quarters concerned demanded proper implementation of the design by Hamidur Rahman with the help of sculptor Novera Ahmed and Danish architect Gean Deleuran. ASM Ismail said that because of the extension, two entrances to the basement murals were permanently closed and after remaining in an abandoned state for 15 years, the murals had lost much of their gloss. In the 1983 renovation, the original poor materials were lined with marble stone. A museum and library were also featured in the original plan. On August 25, 2010, the High Court issued nine directives for the maintenance and renovation of the Shaheed Minar and asked the Public Works Department to establish a museum and a library on its premises.[8]

Despite some flaws of proportionality, the Shaheed Minar still stands high. It is one of the city’s most important monuments. The Shaheed Minar of Dhaka has a very close association with the city’s cultural history. It also happens to be one of the primary Dhaka Tourist Attractions and is visited by thousands of tourists throughout the year.It is one of the most well-maintained monuments in Bangladesh. Special care is taken each year on the occasion of 21 February (Ekushey February). The premises are washed and cleaned thoroughly. Artists of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University then colorfully paint the Central Shaheed Minar premises with intricate designs. Thus the Shaheed Minar premises are colorful throughout the year.

The Shaheed Minar (side view)

Architecture

The enormous design includes half-circular columns to symbolize the mother with her fallen sons standing on the monument’s central dais and the red sun shining behind. The Central Shaheed Minar of Dhaka goes up to a height of 14 meters and is a brilliant piece of architecture which has been made with marble stones. The staircases and barrier are highlighted white to create a divine look. The fence on both sides is painted with lines from poems of legendary poets in iron letters. As the visitors enter the monument they will find two statues of the patriots who sacrificed their lives in that heinous police firing of 1952.The marble floor was designed to reveal the moving shadows of the columns. The basement of the Shaheed Minar also included a 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) mural representing the history of the Language Movement.[9]

Hurried repair of the Shaheed Minar resulted the Minar to be constructed incorrectly. The height of the column was shorter and the head bent more than originally planned, and the proportions of different parts of the monument were not properly maintained.

Significance Of The Shaheed Minar

The language movement was one of the formidable movements which has come up in the country of Bangladesh, thus The Central Shaheed Minar epitomizes in other words represent the spirit of Bangladeshi nationalism and also highlights the importance of the Bengali language in the social and cultural progress of the country. As a result The Shaheed Minar has a very significant place in the social and cultural mechanism of Bangladesh.

At present, all national, mourning, cultural and other activities occurred each year regarding 21 February is centered around the Shaheed Minar.

Location

The Shaheed Minar is situated near Dhaka Medical College Hospital and in the Dhaka University area. It is adjacent to the Mathematics department of Dhaka University.

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