The Shaheed Minar [ Bengali: শহীদ মিনার ] is a national monument in Dhaka, Bangladesh, established to commemorate those killed during the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations of 1952 in then East Pakistan.
On 21 and 22 February 1952, students from Dhaka University and Dhaka Medical College and political activists were killed when the Pakistani police force opened fire on Bengali protesters who were demanding official status for their native tongue, Bengali. The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka. A makeshift monument was erected on 23 February by students of University of Dhaka and other educational institutions, but soon demolished on 26 February by the Pakistani police force.
The Language Movement gained momentum, and after a long struggle, Bengali gained official status in Pakistan (with Urdu) in 1956. To commemorate the dead, the Shaheed Minar was designed and built by Bangladeshi sculptors Hamidur Rahman in collaboration with Novera Ahmed. Construction was delayed by martial law, but the monument was finally completed in 1963, and stood until the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, when it was demolished completely during Operation Searchlight. After Bangladesh gained independence later that year, it was rebuilt. It was expanded in 1983.
National, mourning, cultural and other activities held each year to mark 21 February, Ekushey or Shaheed Dibas (Martyrs' Day), are centred on the Shaheed Minar. Since 2000, 21 February is also recognised as International Mother Language Day.
The first Shaheed Minar was built immediately after the events of 21–22 February 1952. According to Dr. Sayeed Haider the main planner and the designer of the first Shaheed Minar, the decision to build it was first made by the students of Dhaka Medical College. Shaheed Minar is situated near Dhaka Medical College Hospital and in the Dhaka University area. It is adjacent to the Mathematics department of Dhaka University. It is only 0.5 kilometres (0.3 mi) away from Shahbag and 0.25 km (0.16 mi) distant from Chankharpul. Shaheed Minar is an outstanding monument of Bangladesh. It was built to tribute the martyrs who given up their life for language. The main incident had been occurring inside of Dhaka medical college hospital. So a decision was taken to build a memorial adjacent to DMCH. The planning started at midnight on 22 February, and the work started the next day. This Minar was sponsored by Pearu Sardar, one of the old Dhaka panchayet sardars, when some of the students asked his help at midnight of 22 February, to contribute the raw materials needed to build the monument. Although curfew was in place, students started building the Minar in the afternoon of 23 February. They worked through the night and finished it at dawn. A hand written paper was attached to the Minar with "Shaheed Smritistombho" written on it. The original Minar was on a base measuring 10.5 feet (3.2 m). The Minar was inaugurated by the father of Sofiur Rahman, killed during the massacre. It was demolished on 26 February by the police and Pakistani Army. Smaller versions of the memorial were built in other places.