On the occasion of International Mother Language Day, the Kolkata-based adventure tourism company, 100 Miles, has organised an international bicycle rally. This is the third year running that the rally, called 3rd Kolkata-Dhaka Bicycle Expedition, has been successfully organised. It started from Kolkata on February 14 and would reach Dhaka on February 20, to celebrate International Mother Language Day or Antorjatik Matribhasha Dibas, as it is called in Bengali, the next day, February 21.
According to the United Nations, International Mother Language Day has
been observed on February 21 every year since 2000 to promote linguistic
and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day
in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language,
Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistani
province of East Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in the capital
The four who laid down their lives on February 21
were Rafiquddin Ahmed, Abdus Salam, Abul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar. At
least four others were killed the following day.
The objective of
celebrating the day is to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual
education, and to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural
traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
The 2014 rally being flagged off at Deshapriya Park
After leaving Kolkata, the rally reached Chakdaha, which is about 60 km north-east of Kolkata, on February 15, and from there reached Asannagar on February 16. Both are located in Nadia district. From there the rally entered Bangladesh via the town of Darshana, located on the Bangladesh side of the Indo-Bangla border.
After entering Bangladesh, the rally wound its way through Kushtia and Rajbari. Today, February 19, it is scheduled to cover the stretch from Rajbari to Manikganj, a distance of 65 km. From Manikganj, the rally would cover the last 50 km to its final destination, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which it would reach on February 20. Dhaka’s Shaheed Minar, which was built to commemorate those killed during the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations of 1952, would be the final stop of the rally. There, on February 21, the rallyists would pay their respects to those who laid down their lives for the recognition of Bengali as the national language of Bangladesh. They would return by bus from Dhaka.
TheThe rallyists at Shaheed Minar in Dhaka on the completion of the rally in 2013
From Kolkata to Dhaka, the rallyists would be covering a distance of approximately 405 km bicycles.
The rally has been named ‘Bhasha Sutra’, or ‘connecting through language’, as it is meant as a tribute to the Bengali language, which connects West Bengal and Bangladesh (and which, till August 15, 1947, was one state). The tagline of the event is ‘Pedal for Mother Language’.
Shaheed Minar, Dhaka
According to the organisers, the aim of the rally is to bring the two Bengali-speaking regions of West Bengal and Bangladesh closer through paying respect to the struggle for Bengali as a national language.
The first two years of the rally, 2012 and 2013, were very successful, and the rallyists have a lot of wonderful memories to share. It is hoped that the 3rd rally would be equally successful. For any information on the rally, one can contact 100 Miles.
100 Miles – contact information
ADDRESS: 71A, Sultan Alam Road, Saoni Apartments, Flat 01, Kolkata 700033
PHONE: +91 33 24229068
MOBILE: +91 9339738869, +91 9836077202, +91 9830580893
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
A concert before the commencement of the 2014 rally at Deshapriya Park
Letters wishing the best for the rally from the governor, CM, director general of Border Guard Bangladesh (L to R)