After walking a few steps through the main entrance of Jahangirnagar University, the cultural capital filled with exuberant natural beauty and diverse wildlife, a humongous black monument depicting three human figures can be seen in front of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The central component of the sculpture portrays political solidarity among the Bengali-speaking peoples through the effigy of a man protesting with a clenched fist alongside a child who has been fatally shot and cradled in his mother's lap, which is a powerful representation of the heroic Language Movement.
'Amar Ekushey' serves as a poignant reminder of the tremendous sacrifices and victories won by the Bengali people at the cost of fresh lives. The Bengalis are the only population worldwide to have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their language. On the fateful day of February 21, 1952, students valiantly took to the streets to protest for their linguistic rights.
In the face of police brutality that led to the gruesome deaths of Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Shafiq, Jabbar, and others, the Bengalis emerged victorious. They secured the right to speak their mother tongue. The Sculptor Jahanara Parveen has masterfully immortalised the spirit of this momentous language movement through her tangible representation.
The architect's statement explains that the sculpture represents the sacrifice of both men and women in the language movement. The central figure of a woman is meant to symbolise this sacrifice, and her upward gaze is a symbol of the courage and strength of women who mourn the loss of their loved ones.
The sculpture has six steps, a memorial of 6 years of different stages of our freedom and liberation movement, including the six-point movement.
At the base of the sculpture, a Palash flower tree heralds the arrival of February 21, as Palash generally bloom in this season.
Al Murshadul Islam Shaon, a fourth-year student of the Government and Politics department of the university, shares his opinion with the Financial Express, "The 'Amar Ekushey' sculpture bears the mark of the strong Bengali spirit, the sacrifice of language martyrs."
"At the same time, it reveals the active participation of women in all our transitions, tribulations, and achievements. Amar Ekushey reminds us Bengalis that we are a nation of heroes, and Bengali is our mother tongue. Despite the child's body lying in the arms of the mother, the mother's upward gaze, and the young man shouting slogans with fisted hands remind us that Bengalis do not know how to lose; Bengalis never bow down to injustice."
The sculptor, Jahanara Parveen, constructed Amar Ekushey, a 34 feet high aesthetic structure with limestone, cement, clay, modelling clay and sand. On February 21, 1991, then Vice-Chancellor Professor Kazi Saleh Ahmed inaugurated the sculpture. The sculpture went through a major renovation and restoration later. It was restored to its original design and re-inaugurated by then vice-chancellor Farzana Islam on April 16, 2018.
Since its inauguration, Amar Ekushey has stood proudly as a witness to history and delineates the immolation of language martyrs.