On February 21, 1952, dozens of students and political activists were killed when the Pakistani police force opened fire on Bengali protesters who were demanding equal status to their native tongue, Bangla. The massacre occurred near Dhaka Medical College and Ramna Park in Dhaka. A makeshift monument was erected on February 23 by students of University of Dhaka and other educational institutions, but soon demolished on February 26 by the Pakistani police force.
The Language Movement gained momentum and after a long struggle, Bangla was given equal status as Urdu. To commemorate the martyrs, the Shaheed Minar was designed and built by Hamidur Rahman, a Bangladeshi sculptor. The monument stood until the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, when it was demolished completely during Operation Searchlight, a genocide carried out by the Pakistani Army resulting in an estimated 50,000 civilian deaths. After Bangladesh gained independence, it was rebuilt.
Today, the Shaheed Minar is the centre of cultural activities in Dhaka. Every year, the Language Movement is remembered at the monument.