One of two men released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van gestures to crowds in Glasgow (Picture: PA)
A neighbourhood in Glasgow was celebrating on Thursday night after police released two men detained by Border Force after a demonstration. Local people had surrounded a removal van to prevent it from leaving, chanting ‘leave our neighbours, let them go’. The Home Office was blasted by various local and high-profile critics for attempting to remove people, with particular fury being vented at the ‘reckless’ decision to undertake the action on the first day of Eid. One neighbour compared the decision – branded reckless by a key Scottish minister – to raiding a Christian’s home on Christmas Day, while Nicola Sturgeon also condemned the UK government department. Around 200 demonstrators in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, blocked the immigration enforcement van for hours – with one lying underneath the vehicle for hours. One of the men in the van, Lakhvir Singh, from India, spoke to the PA news agency through a translator.
He said: ‘I’ve been astonished and overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the people of Glasgow. Protesters surround van in bid to stop immigration removals Play Video Loaded: 0% 0:00Progress: 0% PlayMute Current Time0:00 / Duration Time1:49 Fullscreen ‘At around 9.30am immigration enforcement carried out a raid and we were taken to security in the van.’ The 34-year-old continued: ‘There were only five or six people at the time but word spread and then there were crowds of hundreds. ‘We are so grateful for the support.’ Tom, a neighbour who joined the protest, compared the immigration operation on Eid to a police raid on Christmas Day. ‘The solidarity shown today shows the community will not stand for their neighbours being dragged from their homes,’ the 31-year-old, who did not want to give his surname, told PA.
‘I’d ask Christians to reflect on what it would feel like to have your house raided on Christmas Day.’ Shortly after 5pm, Police Scotland released a statement saying the men would be released. First Minister Ms Sturgeon tweeted: ‘The Home Office needs to ask itself hard questions after today. ‘Doing this on Eid, in the heart of our Muslim community, and in the midst of a serious Covid outbreak was staggeringly irresponsible – but the even deeper problem is an appalling asylum & immigration policy.’ It is understood neither of the men is Muslim.
Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf branded the actions ‘reckless’. Saying that immigration was a reserved issue, he tweeted: ‘Situation should never have occurred – the UK Govt’s hostile environment is not welcome here’. He added: ‘I abhor Home Office immigration policy at the best of times, but to have taken the action they have today is at best completely reckless, and at worst intended to provoke.’ Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action. The 54-year-old, who left Afghanistan as a refugee himself in 2000, said earlier: ‘We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state. – metro.co.uk