Language Movement Activist, Politicians


Mohammad Toha


Bangladeshi Language Activist and Left-wing Politician 

(2 January 1922  – 29 November 1987) 



Whenever we talk about the 1952 language movement, we mainly refer to  Salam, Barkat, Rafiq etc., right? Of course we remember them and acknowledge their sacrifice for the nation. But, how many of us know, remember, and acknowledge the student leaders or organizers who actually had significant influences during the language movement and without whom the movements might not even initiate or go according to how it went?  


Today we will read the life story about one of such student leaders at that time. He was a left-wing or communist politician, founder of the earliest left-wing student organization in East Bengal, was involved with the formation of Awami Muslim League and one of the organizers of the anti-Ayub movement. He had various roles in his lifetime. He had the title of Comrade. However, he is not talked about much now. He is Mohammad Toaha. 


Let us get to know more in detail about his contribution during the language movement and other life stories. 

Life of “Mohammad Toaha” at a glance:

Real Name: Mohammad Toaha

Date of Birth: 2 January 1922 

Birth Place: Hajirhat, Ramgati thana, Laxmipur district, the then Bengal Presidency, British India, now Bangladesh

Date of Death: 29 November 1987

Place of Death: Hajirhat

Age: 65

Father’s Name: Haji Mohammad Yasin

Mother’s Name: Hasna Banu

Matriculation, Farashganj High School, Dhaka, in 1939

IA (Intermediate), Dhaka College, Dhaka, in 1941

Bachelor’s degree, in Political Science, University of Dhaka, in 1944

Master’s degree, in Political Science, University of Dhaka in 1948


Vice President (VP), Fazlul Haque Hall, University of Dhaka, in 1947

Left-wing Politician

Language Activist, 1952 Language Movement 

Founder, East Pakistan Students Federation, in 1947

Founder, Awami Muslim League, in 1949

Founder, Ganatantrik Juba League and Gana Natya Sangstha, in 1950

Member, Sarbadaliya Rashtrabhasha Sangram Committee, in 1952

Member, East Bengal Provincial Assembly, in 1954

Member, Awami League parliamentary party, in 1954

Founder and President Purba Pakistan Mazdoor Federation, in 1956 

General Secretary, national awami party, in 1957

Founder, Nakshal Bahini, in 1970 

Founder, Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (Communist Party of Bangladesh), in 1977

Member, Jatiya Sangsad, in 1979

President, Bangladesh-China and Bangladesh-Korea Friendship Association

Title: Comrade

Early Life and Education:

The politician, Mohammad Toaha, was born on 2 January 1922 at the village named Hajirhat situated in Ramgati Upazila of Lakshmipur District. At that time, it was under Bengal Presidency, British India. His father’s name was Haji Mohammad Yasin  and mother’s name was Hasna Banu. 

Though he was born in Lakshmipur, he shifted to Dhaka for his academic purposes. 

Seeing the academic or educational background of Toaha, we can say he was a meritorious student. In 1939, he passed his Matriculation examinations from Farashganj High School, located in Old Dhaka. 2 years later, in 1941, he passed his IA examination (intermediate) from Dhaka College. He then got enrolled in University of Dhaka. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1944. He continued to obtain a Masters degree in the same subject, from the same university, in 1950. 

He was involved with politics since his student life at University of Dhaka. His academic knowledge helped him in becoming a politician and doing many bravery works for the betterment of the country.


Mohammad Toaha’s whole life was spent in politics. He had done so many things as a politician, for the betterment of the society. 


His involvement with politics began in 1946, as an activist in Sylhet referendum under Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani. 1 year after,  in 1947,  when Toaha was elected as the Vice President of Fazlul Huq Hall Students Union of University of Dhaka, he founded the earliest left student organization in East Bengal, and named it ‘East Pakistan Students Federation’. In the same year he was elevated to the status or title of ‘comrade’.  


In 1949, he was involved with founding the Awami Muslim League. Then in 1950, he played an instrumental role in establishing the organizations like Ganatantrik Juba League and Gana Natya Sangstha. He was a member of the Sarbadaliya Rashtrabhasha Sangram Committee which was formed on 30 January 1952. 


After his release from imprisonment, in 1954, Toaha was elected as a member of the East Bengal Provincial Assembly as a candidate of the party United Front. The party won in that 1954 election. In 1956, he launched a labor organization called Purbo Pakistan Majdur Federation. He himself was elected as its President. In 1957, Toaha was associated with the National Awami Party of Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and later he was selected as its General Secretary.  


With the announcement of martial law by Ayub Khan in 1958, Mohammad Toaha decided to do underground politics. Toaha had to suffer imprisonment 3 times in his whole life, in 1948, 1952 and in 1954 on political grounds. No wonder that is the reason why he went underground. Furthermore, in 1969, he became one of the organizers of the anti-Ayub movement because he was not such a politician who would work from underground. 


In 1979, 3 years after his warrant was withdrawn due to not participating in the liberation war of Bangladesh, Toaha was elected as member of the Parliament, Jatiya Sangsad. As a nominee of the 8-Party alliance, in 1986, he took part in the Jatiya Sangsad election.  


Besides politics, he also served as the President of Bangladesh-China and Bangladesh-Korea Friendship Association.

Participation and Contribution in the Bengali Language Movement:

 the end of the year, he got arrested for attachments in student politics. He then got released 2 years later, in 1954. Thus, we can not forget his dedication and contributions in the Language Movement. 

During the Bengali Language Movement in 1952, Toaha was one of the student leaders and his contributions in the movement are undeniable. Though the language movement began in a massive phase in 1952, 4 years earlier, on 11 March 1948, a team led by Toaha went to the Secretariat to give Khawaja Nazimuddin (the then Governor-General of Pakistan) a memorandum. Then the police arrested him. Later he was tortured by the police and had to spend a week in the hospital for recovery. After he got released, again he had worked recklessly during the time of actual language movement. However, not many people now remember or acknowledge him or his works. 


He was very active during the initial stages of the movement. Most of the posters, articles, leaflets etc. were made by him at that time. As Toaha was the then VP of the Fazlul Haque Hall of University of Dhaka, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, went to University of Dhaka, Toaha submitted a memorandum to him about the language demand of East Pakistan people. Moreover, Mohammad Toaha was vocal against  the Pakistani government’s attempt to write Bengali in Arabic script. Later on, in the same year, he was arrested for attachments in student politics. But before getting arrested, he had taken some bold decisions. 


On February 21, 1952, when other students asked him what to do or how to carry out the strike.  He then recommended that they should break the Section 144 one group at a time. The reason for taking such a decision was that the movement could be stopped if the enraged mob filled the streets. Toaha therefore stated that each group should consist of no more than ten pupils in order to continue the movement throughout the day. The consequence of his decision was that around 10 am of that same day, students started pouring into the street in groups. But, police fired tear gas shells, arrested protesters, threw them into a truck, and took them to a distant place. Toaha did not go home and went underground. Police issued warrants against him along with other 7 student leaders.


Surprisingly, the person who was involved with the several movements of the country to be a free nation, he was not seen in the actual war of freedom, the Liberation War of 1971.


Toaha along with communists Sukhendu Dastider and Abdul Haq of the East Pakistan Communist Party refused to take part in the Liberation War for Bangladesh. That is why, after the war, when Bangladesh got its independence, a warrant was issued against Toaha. He then went into hiding.  However, 5 years later, in 1976, his warrant was withdrawn and he again came back to politics.


Comrade Toaha, despite having controversy against his name, it is undeniable that he actually worked for the betterment of society. 


In 1979, he had formed the Nakshal Bahini as a venture of class struggle for establishing ‘Communism’. During the War of Liberation of Bangladesh, he formed his own group of freedom fighters which consisted of the members of the Purbo Bangla Communist Party and developed a a free zone in the western area of Noakhali district .


The end of this politician’s era came to an end on 29 November 1987, at the age of 65. He breathed his last at his native village, Hajirhat. The cause of his death is not known. 


His death anniversary is still celebrated till date by his party, the ‘Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal’. His contributions are remembered there.  

A number of Toaha’s articles on politics and society were published in newspapers and journals during and after he died.


We can not and should not forget the contributions of Mohammad Toaha in the 1952 Language Movement even though he did not take not part in the Liberation War. Things change with time and that is probably why some situations had made Toaha to take the decision of not participating in the Liberation war. Nonetheless, in the history books, Toaha’s contributions, dedications and efforts as a politician are still mentioned. The new generation youths need to know about such a communist politician as we do not hear that many communist politicians now in Bangladesh.


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