AS the 75th anniversaries of the independence of Pakistan and India approach, an extraordinary event is being planned on the south side of Glasgow. Promoting friendship across the city’s South Asian communities, regardless of their national or religious heritage, the “Happy Independence Day” celebrations will be held in Pollokshields tomorrow.

The event is the brainchild of community activist Tabassum Niamat, who is project manager at the Pollokshields Trust. Intended as a fun family day, the event will begin, Niamat explains, with “the kind of games we used to play when we were youngsters, like tug o’ war and musical statues.”

There will also be live music provided by community singers and food, much of it provided by the nearby Sikh temple, Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib. Indeed, Niamat continues, she has been inundated with offers of support for the event from local organisations, such as Common Threads Vision and Urban Roots, and “individuals who use the Bowling Green on a daily basis.”

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After the party games, being held at the Bowling Green community hub, the event will draw to a close with “a whole load of music and dancing”, says Niamat, who is herself of Punjabi-Muslim heritage.

“If there’s one thing that Punjabis know how to do, it’s how to party.

If you give us music, food and dance, that is all you’re ever going to need.”

Niamat wanted to hold the celebratory event immediately before the national independence days of Pakistan and India (which falls on Sunday and Monday).

It was important to keep the community friendship event separate from the independence days themselves.

“I do not want to offend or upset anyone”, she explains. Niamat is conscious of the traumatic memories that are embedded in partition of the Indian subcontinent following independence from the British Empire.

Due to the chaos of partition, there are no accurate figures for the numbers who died in the communal violence, but scholars agree that the victims number in the millions.

The Punjab was partitioned between Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan in 1947, and a great emphasis was placed upon divisions between Sikh, Muslim, Hindu and other religious groups. Indeed, the British Empire had always fostered those divisions in a textbook example of colonial “divide and rule”.

Tomorrow’s event is, says Niamat, a natural “culmination” of the work she and others have been doing at the Bowling Green. The Pollokshields Trust promotes friendship and unity across “communities that, on paper, are not supposed to work together”, she explains.

Niamat rejects, she says, “the politics of hate, the idea that certain communities just cannot get on. That is not my reality.”

She gives the example of Inder Singh and his wife Inderjit Kaur, a Sikh couple from the city of Amritsar, in the Indian state of Punjab, who were recently visiting their son in Glasgow for three months.

Thanks to the community work that has been done at the Bowling Green, the couple have spent many happy times with members of Glasgow’s Punjabi-Muslim community.

Niamat adds that the Singhs’ visit to Glasgow was an encouraging example of how those divisions can be overcome and friendship promoted. “We all hail from the Punjab, so we share the same language, clothes, culture, and heritage”, she says.

“We often spoke about our similarities and shared histories. What I witnessed was a love for a land that was once one and that these people felt a natural infinity to one another.

“Our Pakistani [Muslim] families would cook meals to share with everyone here and would visit the Gurdwara [Sikh temple] with Mr and Mrs Singh. I organised a trip to Loch Lomond to take them all away and enjoy the glorious scenery Scotland has to offer.”

A Glasgow visit by Inder Singh (left) and his wife was an ‘encouraging example of how divisions can be overcome’

Such friendships stand in stark contrast to the divisive rhetoric and actions of politicians like current UK Home Secretary Priti Patel who is on record as being a supporter of India’s far-right, Islamophobic, Hindu nationalist organisation, the RSS.

The people of Pollokshields, and Glasgow more widely, made their feelings towards Patel very clear in May of last year, when they came out in their hundreds in the famous Kenmure Street demonstration that prevented the deportation of Sumit Sehdev and Lakhvir Singh, two local men of Indian-Sikh heritage.

In May of this year that important victory for the diverse community on the south-side of Glasgow was celebrated in the Festival of Resistance on Kenmure Street. It seems entirely appropriate, therefore, that – as the 75th anniversaries of the creation of the states of Pakistan and India come around – Pollokshields should be hosting a party to celebrate friendship across South Asian communities who have settled in Glasgow.

The Happy Independence Day event takes place at the Bowling Green, Pollokshields, 3pm to 8pm, tomorrow.