President Abdul Hamid led the nation in mourning as he placed a floral wreath at Central Shaheed Minar as the clock struck one minute past zero hour on Sunday, followed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After placing the wreaths, they stood in solemn silence for a moment as a mark of respect for the martyrs of the language movement.
People from all walks of life gathered at Central Shaheed Minar yesterday to pay their respects to the language martyrs of 1952 who sacrificed their lives to establish Bangla as one of the state languages of erstwhile Pakistan.
Walking barefoot, singing songs of patriotism, wearing black badges and holding bouquets close to their bosoms, people of all walks of life paid homage to the martyrs of 1952 from the early hours of Sunday.
Many young children were seen with their parents, carrying flowers in their hands.
The historic song “Amar Bhaiyer Rokte Rangano Ekushey February” was sung as people paid their deepest respects to the heroes of the Language Movement.
Sheikh Hasina, also the president of the Awami League, along with her cabinet members, advisers, lawmakers and party leaders placed another wreath on behalf of the party.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Deputy Speaker Fazley Rabbi Mia and Leader of the Opposition Begum Raushan Ershad placed wreaths at Central Shaheed Minar.
Walking barefoot, members of the public one by one approached the platform at Central Shaheed Minar.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia paid her respects at Central Shaheed Minar around 1:30 am.
Some Jatayatabadi Chhatra Dal leaders allegedly engaged in a clash with on-duty personnel while trying to ascend to the main platform to place their flowers.
Shortly afterwards, law enforcers intervened and brought the situation under control.
Ten people were detained yesterday over explosions at Jessore Shaheed Minar yesterday.
Six bombs went off at Jessore Shaheed Minar in the very early hours yesterday.
Police said they raided Asad Hall of Government MM College, where the memorial is located, just after the incident.
Two Bangladesh Chhatra League factions clashed at Shalikha in Magura over the placing of wreaths to observe the day.
On February 21, 1952, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Abdus Salam and a nine-year-old boy named Ohiullah embraced martyrdom when police opened fire, in front of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, on a rally demanding that Bangla be declared one of the state languages of Pakistan.
Another protester, Shafiur Rahman, died the next day.
The language activists were protesting against a policy enforced by the then leaders of Pakistan of denying Bangla the status of a state language.