Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said that the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 had its origin in a movement that sought to recognise Bangla as the official language of erstwhile East Pakistan.
Those who took part in the Bangladesh liberation movement 48 years ago had one slogan in their mind - to make Bangla the national language of the then eastern part of Pakistan, Mukherjee said after inaugurating a three-day literature festival on Thursday at the ongoing International Kolkata Book Fair.
The existing literature suggests that Urdu used to be the official language of East Pakistan after partition and the natives of that region were fighting to make their mother tongue Bangla the official language.
The Sheikh Mujibur Rahman-headed movement ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, Mukherjee said.
The 83-year-old statesman said people must accord due respect to Bangla language -- which is one of the most spoken languages in West Bengal and Bangladesh.
He said that nearly 20 crore people speak Bangla in West Bengal and Bangladesh.
On being felicitated by the organisers of the book fair and the literary festival for getting Bharat Ratna, Mukherjee said, "I don't know how much I deserve this honour."
Mukherjee was recently conferred the country's highest civilian award along with Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika.
Sixty-six guests from 10 countries, including India, are attending the three-day literary meet which will have 24 sessions covering literature, contemporary issues and different areas of the arts.
The Times of India
BDST: 1428 HRS, FEB 8, 2019