Bangladesh commemorated the death of four student nationalists killed by police bullets 31 years ago on February 21, only a week after student demonstrations shook the stability of the country's martial law government.
GV & SV NIGHT SCENES: Bangladeshi President Ahsanuddin Choudhury placing wreath (3 shots)
GV Military ruler General Hossain Mohammad Ershad laying wreath and saluting
GV PAN DAY-TIME People walking past graveyard of victims killed in demonstration in 1952
GV People filing past graveyard and laying flowers on graves (4 shots)
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Background: Bangladesh commemorated the death of four student nationalists killed by police bullets 31 years ago on February 21, only a week after student demonstrations shook the stability of the country's martial law government. The irony was not lost on some mourners who chanted anti-military slogans and demands for a return to democracy soon after wreath laying ceremonies began at midnight. The first wreath was laid by President Ahsanuddin Choudhury who was followed by military ruler General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, with escort of armed troops and police. Thousands of wreaths and bouquets were laid at Dhaka's martyrs' monument built where the students were gunned down during a demonstration in 1952 to support demands that Bengali be recognised as a national language. By day, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis filed past the monument and graves of the students to mark Ekushey (Martyrs' Day). The day symbolizes the start of the secessionist struggle against rule from what was then West Pakistan (Pakistan). Five people were killed and more than 100 injured in student riots on February 15 and 16. The military government reacted quickly to end the troubles, by arresting more than 1,000 people including leaders from a left-wing and central alliance. Universities were closed down and an overnight curfew imposed. Martyrs' Day is the most highly-charged day in Bangladesh and was viewed as a test for determining whether the protest movement has retained its strength.