Children of Comilla Ramakrisha Orphanage Playing in front of Rebuilt Desecrated and Destroyed Memorial of the Father of the Idea of Bangladesh DhirendraNath Datta. Other Rebuilt Memorials are of Hindus and Buddhists going back to Centuries. The adjacent Cremation Ground was aslo Destroyed during Anti-Hindu Pogrom.
DhirendraNath Datta: The Father of the Idea of Bangladesh
Sabyasachi Ghosh Dastidar
While visiting his memorial at the smasan (cremation ground) in Thakurpara of Comilla City, behind the Ramakrishna Ashram Orphanage that our Probini Foundation of New York supports (http://www.probini.org/,) it reminded me again of amnesia that we Bengalis suffer from. Sri DhirendraNath Datta, a Hindu, was the first to propose in Pakistan Parliament in 1948 for Bengali to be made a national language, and that love of language eventually created Bangladesh. With that speech unknowingly DattaBabu became the Father of the Idea of the Bengali nation that the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made that dream a reality. Datta and his son were dragged by the Army of Islamic Republic from their Comilla home. Their remains were never found. Yet his home and homestead were confiscated, without compensation and notice, through Enemy Property Act in free Bangladesh, comparable to declaring George Washington’s homestead as ‘enemy property’ in the newly independent United States. Let us see what he spoke at Pakistan Parliament.
Speech by Mr. DhirendraNath Datta, Member of Pakistan National Assembly,
Held at Karachi, Sind Province of West Pakistan, On February 25, 1948
Seeking Bengali to be a National Language of Pakistan
(This is contained in Pakistan Gazetteer, February 25, 1948)
Note: At the time of birth of Pakistan in 1947 her territory included East Bengal, then called East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and four West Pakistan provinces: Baluchistan, Northwest Frontier Province, Punjab and Sind. East Bengal then contained 55% of Pakistani population.
Mr. Datta, a Hindu of Comilla, introduced an amendment to a discussion to include Bengali as a language for debate in the National Assembly. Discussion followed that motion.
Mr. DhirendraNath Datta (East Bengal: General)
Mr. President, Sir, I move: “That in sub-rule 29, after the word ‘English’ in line 2, the words ‘or Bengalee’ be inserted.”
May I move the other notion as that can be considered together because that relates to the same rule?
Mr. President: I think you take them separately and not together. You may take item No.2 on the agenda — your first amendment.
Mr. DhirendraNath Datta: May I speak, Sir?
Mr. President: Yes, speak.
Sir, in moving this — the notion that stands in my name — I can assure the House that I do so not in a spirit of narrow Provincialism, but, Sir, in the spirit that this motion receives the fullest consideration at the hands of the members. I know, Sir, that Bengalee is a provincial language, but, so far our state is concerned, it is the language of the majority of the people of the state. So although it is a provincial language, but as it is a language of the majority of the people of the state and it stands on a different footing therefore. Out of six crores and ninety lakhs of people (69,000,000) inhabiting this State, 4 crore and 40 lakhs of people (44,000,000) speak the Bengalee language. So, Sir, what should be the State language of the state? The State language of the state should be the language which is used by the majority of the people of the State, and for that, Sir, I consider that Bengalee language is a lingua franca of our State. It may be contended with a certain amount of force that even in our sister dominion the provincial language has not got the status of a lingua franca because in her sister dominion of India the proceedings of the constituent Assembly is conducted in Hindustani, Hindi or Urdu or English. It is not conducted in the Bengalee language but so far as the Bengalee is concerned out of 30 crores of people (300,000,000) inhabiting that sister dominion two and half crores (25,000,000) speak Bengalee language. Hindustani, Hindi or Urdu has been given an honoured place in the sister dominion because the majority of the people of the Indian Dominion speak that language. So we are to consider that in our state it is found that the majority of the people of the state do speak the Bengalee language then Bengalee should have an honoured place even in the Central Government.
I know, Sir, I voice the sentiments of the vast millions of our State. In the meantime I want to let the House know the feelings of the vastest millions of our State. Even, Sir, in the Eastern Pakistan where the people numbering four crores and forty lakhs speak the Bengalee language the common man even if he goes to a Post Office and wants to have a money order form finds that the money order is printed in Urdu language and is not printed in Bengalee language or it is printed in English. A poor cultivator, who has got his son, Sir, as a student in Dhaka University and who wants to send money to him, goes to a village Post Office and he asks for a money order, finds that money order form printed in Urdu language. He can not send the money order but shall have to rush to a distant town and have the money order form translated for him and then the money order, Sir, that is necessary for that boy can be sent. The poor cultivator, Sir, sells a certain plot of land or a poor cultivator purchases a plot of land and goes to the Stamp vendor and pays him money but cannot say whether he has received the value of the money in Stamps. The value of the Stamp, Sir, is written not in Bengalee but is written in Urdu and English. But he cannot say, Sir, whether he has got the real value of the Stamp. These are the difficulties experienced by the Common man of our State. The language of the State should be such which can be understood by the common man of the State. The common man of the State numbering four crores and forty millions find that the proceedings of this Assembly which is their mother of parliaments in being conducted in a language, Sir, which is unknown to them. Then, Sir, English has got an honoured place, Sir, in Rule 29. I know, Sir, English has got an honoured place because of the International Character.
But, Sir, if English can have an honoured place in Rule 29 that the proceedings of the Assembly should be conducted in Urdu or English why Bengalee, which is spoken by four crores forty lakhs of people should not have an honoured place, Sir, in Rule 29 of the procedure Rules. So, Sir, I know I am voicing the sentiments of the vast millions of our State and therefore Bengalee should not be treated as a Provincial Language. It should be treated as the language of the State. And therefore, Sir, I suggest that after the word ‘English,’ the word ‘Bengalee’ be inserted in Rule 29. I do not want to detain the House but I wish that the Members present here should give a consideration to the sentiments of the vast millions of over State, Sir, and should accept the amendment that has been moved by me.
Mr. President: I may read out the amendment again as some Members might not have it.
Amendment moved: “that in sub-rule (1) of Rule 29, after the word ‘English’ in line 2, the words ‘or Bengalee’ be inserted.”
I have had many conversations with DattaBabu’s granddaughter Srimati Aroma Datta in Bangladesh and in New York about her struggle to save the memory of her grandfather and her uncle. It may not be out of place to mention how the person who can be considered as the Father of the Idea of Bangladesh was treated by his nation. Mr. DhirendraNath Datta, a Hindu, was a Member of Parliament in the first Pakistan Assembly after Pakistan was created in 1947, as mentioned in previous paragraph. Mr. Datta chose to live in his Muslim-majority homeland after partition instead of migrating to Hindu-majority partitioned India. Most of the atheist and secularist Bengali Hindus of Congress Party and Communist Party chose to migrate to India abandoning their Muslim-majority homeland of their ancestors. Actually Datta returned back to his Comilla homeland from western Bengal that became part of India. On February 25, 1948 he was the first to propose in Pakistan Parliament then held in Karachi in southern Pakistan, that Bengali be given the status of national language of Pakistan as majority of Pakistanis spoke that language as mentioned earlier. Although the idea was rejected by the Parliament, attempts to establish Bengali as the official language would lead to eventual independence of the Bengalis. In 1971, an elderly Datta at age 87 was arrested by the Pakistan Army for being Hindu and accused him of supporting Bangladesh’s independence. Datta was dragged along with his teenage son Dilip from their home in Comilla in front of his daughter-in-law Pratiti Debi and grandkids Aroma and Rahul. Datta and his son Dilip were both murdered by the Army of Islamic Republic after gruesome torture. Their body bodies were never found, and no one was prosecuted for that cold-blooded murder, and for the targeted attack on rest of the family. Yet, in the newly liberated secular Bangladesh, his homestead and rest of the property were confiscated through Enemy Property Act, a law that allows confiscation of (only indigenous) Hindu property by declaring Hindus as ‘enemies of state.’ A man who produced the idea of Bangladesh and gave his life for independence of the nation was made ‘enemy of the state’ for being Hindu! In American context it will be comparable to declaring George Washington homestead as ‘enemy property.’ One of his young granddaughters, Aroma, seeing this injustice promised herself to fight the unjust law. In 2000 a publication house she is associated with, PRIP, published a historic book: An Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh through the Vested Property Act. Bangladesh Government had earlier changed the name from ‘Enemy’ to ‘Vested’ keeping rest of the law as before. The book was edited by Professor Abul Barkat, a Muslim of Dhaka University Economics Department, at considerable personal risk, while co-edited by Shafique uz Zaman, Azizur Rahman, Avijit Poddar and Subhas SenGupta. Zaman and Rahman are Muslim, while Poddar and SenGupta are Hindu. Sensing her imminent arrest for publishing the book, Ms. Aroma Datta had to bring a court injunction on December 24, 2002 preventing her arrest. Her research found that in the 1990s through this Act “2 million acres of land, property and other resources (tens of thousands of homes, shops, businesses, ponds, and the likes — author) were confiscated.….. The total loss of assets by Hindus ….would be Taka 1,505,204 million which equals to 88 percent of current GDP of Bangladesh” the book highlights.
Mr. Dhiren Dutta holds a special place in the hearts of pro-tolerant Bangladeshis. One of many tributes paid to that missing man was S. M. Ali, a Muslim, the founder-editor of The Daily Star, a Dhaka daily on May 21, 1993 and again on November 2, 2003.
Sadly during the 1992 anti-Hindu pogrom in Bangladesh his memorial was vandalized and desecrated along with scores of other Hindu memorials – some dating back centuries – for no reason other than being indigenous Hindu of the land.
Let us hope as the nation prepares for the trial of war criminals that no stone remain unturned to catch the criminals who murdered DattaBabu, The Father of the Nation Mujibur Rahman, and 3 million brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends of our towns and villages. In his memory let us hope that we can build an institute devoted to preserve the indigenous cultures, an academic institution and/or a human rights center.
 Sabyasachi Ghosh Dastidar “bangalir amnesia – smritilop byadhir protikar darker” in Ai Bangla Oi Bangla, Tulat Publishers, Calcutta, 1991; 86-91
 Sachi G. Dastidar, “Appendix F” in Empire’s Last Casualty: Indian Subcontinent’s Vanishing Hindu and Other Minorities, Frima KLM, Kolkata, 2008; 296-298; quoted from Pakistan Parliament Gazetteer.
 Pratiti Debi, ‘Jaydikey takai shey deekei beebhishikar chinho’ (Wherever we look we find signs of horror), Prachi, Puja journal of Bangladesh Hindu Mandir, New York, October 2003; 35-37. Her article mentions attack on Hindus and pro-independence Muslim leaders on the first days of Hindu and secularist Awami League Party members’ extermination campaign by Pakistan Army
 Op cit, Empires Last… 169-171
I very much like the article on “Dhirendra Natha Datta: The Father of Begali Nationhood and Bangladesh." I was in tears. I am very grateful to you for establishing the original history, but the history has been diverted towards a wrong direction, and intentionally has been distorted, which pains me very much. The entire Nation should remain grateful to “Shaheed (Martyr) Dhirendra Nath Datta,” but hardly they remember him, neither recognize his contribution, instead systematically erasing his contribution from history. Anyhow, Sachi Da, I am very grateful to you for acknowledging Dhirendra Nath Datta’s contribution in creating Bangladesh. My pronam and love to you and Boudi. I will be looking forward to hear from you at your convenience. With warm regards.
October 11, 2009
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 7:37 PM
Very belated Bijoya greetings - pronam neben!
But, it was heartening to learn about Probini's effort to restore Mr. Dutta's memorial.regards,
Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 5:37 AM
Thank you sir. This is nice and I have a collection of copy of his whole speech.
Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2009 1:12 PM
Thanks, it was enlightening to read.
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 3:22 AM
Thank you very much for sending the great D. Dutta's speech in the parliament. I will send it to all my friends.
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 10:57 AM
FW: DhirendraNath Datta
Thank you for writing such an historic article honoring our Dadu and his eventual casualty.
October 27, 2009
Dear Dr. Sabyasachi Ghosh Dastidar:
Please allow me to extend my hearty thanks and gratitude for your Article in memory of the most respected late Dhirendra Nath Datta. It is a great opportunity for me to pay my respect and honor to this great undisputed leader of the then Pakistan (East Pakistan) now Bangladesh. Through you, I send my respect and heartfelt prayers to the family members of Late Dhirendra Nath Datta especially his grandson and granddaughter, Aroma. I feel for them this social injustice and non-recognition, and inhuman land grabbing of his homestead and hold property.
Undoubtedly, Dhirendra Nath Datta is the “Adi-Pita / Father” like the ancient Biblical Father “Abraham” of the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims. Mr. Datta was only the member of the Parliament who raised the voice, argued, and proposed for amendment as Bangla one of the state language of Pakistan.
He was sharp, devoted and keen parliamentarian, and he even caught the playing type recorder which was by passing, and he requested to play the type recorder. He is the symbolic secular leader for the then Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Due to him, the Minorities of Bangladesh have raised their head as their symbolic leader, and the minority leader of Bangladesh are not basically nimok haram, alBadar, Munafek or Be-iman. He is proud of us and our new generation has to respect him.
It is my personal view that we have a great responsibility to put him in the right place of our history. Since after Partition of India, and subsequently, Bangladesh, the minority communities of Bangladesh have been segregated and treated as the second or the third class citizens. It seems to me that a little change of mind is being signaled into the minds in place of Arabic way of approach. As a humanitarian worker you are doing your best which is a great effort for humanity.
Thank you for your valuable efforts and works.
Michael B. Malo
Mr Dastidar: I am 100 percent with you. Dhirendra Nath Datta is the father of the idea of independent Bangladesh which was implemented by Smt. Indira Gandhi.
Mohammad N. Islam
February 20, 2017