Bangladeshi community thanks South Tyneside for 'beautiful gesture' as borough marks 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence day
South Tyneside’s thriving Bangladeshi community has celebrated a golden anniversary – with an eye to an even brighter future in the borough.
Friday, March 26, marked 50 years of Bangladesh break for independence from Pakistan in 1971.
It was a process that led to the nine-month long Bangladesh Liberation War, before the country got its wish on December 16 of the same year.
During the period, settlers in South Tyneside played a significant role in highlighting their country’s independence push.
Now they and their descendants have marked the anniversary - while stressing their love of local life, including as restaurant bosses in South Shields’ famous Ocean Road.
Shah Lalon Amin 41, owner of the Delhi 6 eatery and co-founder of South Shields’ Caterers’ Federation, said everyone linked to Bangladesh was delighted to mark the anniversary.
He said: “As a British Bangladeshi, I’m very proud to celebrate this day, as is the whole Bangladeshi community in South Tyneside.
“My father’s generation in this country tried their best to rally support, they went out to protest, they highlighted the issues.
“They also raised money which they sent back to Bangladesh to help with independence. They took buckets out onto the streets.
“What it means for people who are second generation is an immense sense of pride in how Bangladesh has done in these 50 years.
“It is now one of the leading countries in South Asia, and one of the fastest growing.”
Around 4,500 people whose forefathers came to Tyneside, often as chefs on ships in the Second World War live in and around South Shields.
Mr Amin added: “We are very grateful to South Tyneside Council for flying our flag, it’s a beautiful gesture.
“South Tyneside is a tolerant, socially diverse place which really is what attracted the first generation to settle here.
“My father, Shah Ruhul Amin, came to South Shields and he fell in love with the place and with the Geordies.
“Because of Covid we cannot throw a big celebration, but we will celebrate.
“My restaurant is open for takeaways, and when we close at the end of the day, we will have a traditional feast of a chicken roast.”
South Shields’ Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck said she traditionally marked independence day with the Bangladeshi community.
With that not being possible due to coronavirus restrictions, she has instead recorded a celebratory video.
She added: “The Bangladeshi community has added much to South Shields and South Tyneside, economically and socially.
“People say there is a Bangladeshi community, but as far as I’m concerned, they are our community.
“It’s people are symbolic of Ocean Road, and they have and do contribute greatly to South Shields and beyond.
“I’m pleased that they are celebrating 50 years of independence.”
Speaking ahead of the day, Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Norman Dick, said: “We have a large Bangladeshi population in the borough. They, along with other ethnic groups, strengthen the diversity of our borough and are a huge part of our rich cultural heritage.”
Cllr Dick said it was ‘only right’ to recognise the importance of this day to our Bangladeshi community.