A man detained in a van by the Home Office prompting a mass street protest in Glasgow has said he is “astonished” and “overwhelmed” by the support of the community.
Lakhvir Singh was detained along with Sumit Sehdevi when officers from the UK Border Agency raided a property in Glasgow’s southside this morning.
The 34-year-old, from India, was later freed after police made the decision to order the release of the two men.
It came after members of the public surrounded the van on Kenmure Street in Pollokshields in a bid to prevent the immigration officers from taking Lakhvir and Sumit away.
Incredible videos show the moment the men walked free from the van as crowds cheered.
Both men were walked to a local mosque where they were met by family and friends.
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Speaking after the ordeal with the help of a translator, Lakhvir said: “I’ve been astonished and overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the people of Glasgow.
“At around 9.30am immigration enforcement carried out a raid and we were taken to security in the van. 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.”
We previously told how Lakhvir’s worried dad Baldev Singh said he was “thankful” to protesters.
He told the Daily Record: “I am very upset. My son has been taken. We are very thankful to the protesters. We hope for a solution.”
Nicola Sturgeon and justice secretary Humza Yousaf had contacted the Home Office asking them to abandon the operation.
The First Minister tweeted: “I disagree fundamentally with @ukhomeoffice immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable. To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a Covid outbreak was a health & safety risk.”
Humza Yousaf condemned the actions of the Home Office stating: “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.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar joined the criticisms stating: “It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.”
Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, Police Scotland, has now said: “In order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, today, Police Scotland has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community meantime.”