Man in Glasgow immigration van 'thankful' for response

image captionLakhvir Singh has lived in Scotland since 2008

One of two men detained in an immigration van in Glasgow on Thursday has said he is grateful for the public response to his situation.

Hundreds of people blocked an immigration enforcement van for hours before the men inside were released.

Lakhvir Singh said he was "thankful" to the protesters and was "very happy" when the van doors opened.

The Home Office said the men had been detained over suspected immigration offences.

Mr Singh, an Indian national who has lived in Scotland since 2008, described the Home Office operation as "frightening".

He praised the reaction of his neighbours in Glasgow's southside and said he was "hopeful" he could stay in Scotland.

He told BBC Scotland: "With the response yesterday I am very, very happy."

image copyrightPA Media

Lawyer Jelina Berlow Rahman, who has been instructed to represent Mr Singh, told BBC Scotland she had not had time to go through his paperwork.

She said: "What I can tell you is Lakhvir Singh has been here since 2008, a substantial period of time, therefore in my opinion he still has a right to a private life, a family life.

"It was evident yesterday, the number of people who came together, that was his community, that was neighbours, that was his friends - the majority of people knew him."

'Reckless action'

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf condemned the Home Office for its actions, in what ended up as an hours-long standoff between police officers and protesters in the city's Kenmure Street.

Answering questions at the Scottish Parliament, Mr Yousaf said: "The blame for what we saw lies squarely on the shoulders of a Home Office that took completely reckless action, which went into the heart of Scotland's Muslim community on the day of Eid.

"At best it was utterly incompetent, at worst it was designed to provoke."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPolice by an immigration van in Kenmure Street, Glasgow which is surrounded by protesters

Mohammad Asif, of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, said he sent text messages to about 600 people on Thursday encouraging them to join the protest.

He added: "The Home Office shouldn't act like the mafia, they should have a more humane way of removing people.

"We don't say every person should come to the UK and live here, but we've been watching these dawn raids - myself for the past 20 years."

The Home Office said on Thursday that it was working to "tackle illegal immigration and the harm it causes" by removing people with no right to be in the UK.

A spokesman added: "The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times."

More on this story