The Home Office will still deport two over-staying Indian migrants despite them being released from a Home Office van in Glasgow during a protest last week.
Lakhvir Singh, 34, and his friend Sumit Sehdevi – both Sikhs originally from India -were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences in Edinburgh, having lived in the UK without leave to remain for ten years.
After news of their arrests got out, around 200 people flooded into a street Pollokshields to surround the Immigration Enforcement van holding the men to block it from leaving last Thursday.
Following an eight-hour standoff – which even saw a protester lying underneath the vehicle’s axles – officials released the men on public safety grounds.
But sources in the Home Office have insisted the demonstration only pushed back the inevitable deportation of mechanic Mr Singh and chef Mr Sehdevi.
Lakhvir Singh, (left) 34, and his friend Sumit Sehdevi (right) – both Sikhs originally from India -were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences in Edinburgh, having lived in the UK without leave to remain for ten years
After news of their arrests got out, hundreds of people flooded into a street Pollokshields to surround the van holding the men to block it from leaving last week. Following an eight-hour standoff – which even saw a protester lying underneath the vehicle’s axles – officials released the men on public safety grounds (pictured)
One insider told The Times: ‘They will still be detained and deported at a later date.
‘We will continue to tackle illegal immigration and the harm it causes.’
Both men were popular members of the local Sikh Gurdwara temple where the friends also worked feeding the homeless.
The Home Office had earlier called on local group Sikhs in Scotland to assist with their deportation attempt.
But the group said no, claiming there is a ‘heavy-handed and targeted approach’ to forced removals of Sikh community members.
Meanwhile, members of Britain’s Indian community are concerned that the Migration and Mobility Partnership – signed by the UK and India – could increase the number of deportations.
The deal saw India agree to the forced removal of thousands of illegal immigrants from Britain, with the UK offering more student and skilled worker visas in exchange.
Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has blamed the Home Office for its ‘reckless action’, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attacked its ‘appalling asylum and immigration policy’.
Last week, a migrant charity threatened legal action against the Home Office.
Jelina Berlow Rahman, a lawyer instructed to represent Mr Singh, said he has been in the country since 2008 and ‘has a right to a private life, a family life’. Pictured: The men are escorted away from the crowds by officers
Mr Singh and Mr Sehdev have lived in the UK for several years and are ‘part of a community’, said refugee and migrant charity Positive Action in Housing.
The charity’s director Robina Qureshi said: ‘The Home Office have referred to these men as illegal.
‘Well they are wrong, and we are now investigating legal action against the Home Office for casting such aspersions.
‘The term illegal in this context is part of the hostile environment. It’s not appropriate to use it for people who have lived in the UK for several years and are part of a community.
‘The men now have legal representation and are in the process of trying to regularise their status.
‘The fact that they had no active legal representation before means they were left vulnerable.’
Jelina Berlow Rahman, a lawyer instructed to represent Mr Singh, said he has been in the country since 2008 and ‘has a right to a private life, a family life’.
She added: ‘It was evident the number of people who came together, that was his community, that was neighbours, that was his friends – the majority of people knew him.’
Mr Singh (centre in white) and Mr Sehdev (behind him waving) both raised their arms as they are released following a huge stand-off with protesters in Glasgow
Ms Qureshi added: ‘Dawn raid vans have no place going into communities dragging innocent people from their homes. They are not, categorically not, criminals.’
Last Thursday, a spokeswoman said: ‘The UK Government is tackling illegal immigration and the harm it causes, often to the most vulnerable people, by removing those with no right to be in the UK.
‘The operation in Glasgow was conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences and the two Indian nationals complied with officers at all times.
‘The UK Government continues to tackle illegal migration in all its forms and our New Plan for Immigration will speed up the removal of those who have entered the UK illegally.’
At around 5pm on May 13, officials relented and released the two suspects to cheers from the crowd.
Thanking their supporters, Mr Singh – speaking through a translator – told ITN: ‘I was taken unannounced from my flat, they barged in and took me into the van.
Sources in the Home Office have insisted the demonstration only pushed back the inevitable deportation of mechanic Mr Singh and chef Mr Sehdevi. Pictured: Home Secretary Priti Patel
‘I was anxious and upset wondering how I would be treated at the detention centre.
‘I’m so happy that my fate brought me here to live in Glasgow where the people are so connected that they’ll come out into the streets to help one of their own.
‘I’ve been astonished and overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the people of Glasgow. It’s the happiest feeling. Thank you very much.’
Mr Singh added: ‘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.’
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the raid had been entirely legal and correct and ‘not linked to Eid in any way’.
But campaigners accused the Home Office of acting ‘like the mafia’ and treating the two men like rapists or murderers.
A person places themselves underneath the Immigration Enforcement van which was stopped by protesters in Glasgow
Protestors surrounded an Immigration Enforcement van to stop it from departing after individuals were detained in Glasgow
There were wild celebrations when both men were freed and allowed to return home after eight hours
The incident also sparked an unlikely row as the favourite to take over Britain’s largest trade union, Howard Beckett, was suspended by Labour and allegedly reported to the police for a hate crime after he called for Priti Patel to be deported.
Mr Beckett – a Northern Irish socialist lawyer and who is running to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite – was widely condemned for his tweet that he stood-by then deleted after 30 minutes.
In a message posted on Twitter on Thursday, the Jeremy Corbyn supporter – who says socialism is his religion – was accused of racism and sounding more like a far-right fascist when he called for the Home Secretary to be kicked out of the UK.
Howard Beckett (centre) is running to succeed Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite, but has been suspended by Labour
The tweet read: ‘Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees. She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism. She is disgusting.’
Beckett initially refused to back down, before deleting the message and apologising.
But it prompted an immediate backlash, with social media users telling Mr Beckett it was ‘racist’ and warning his remark ‘sounded like the BNP’.
Sky News reports that he has been reported to the police for a hate crime.
This is the moment both men were freed from Home Office immigration van after mass protests in Glasgow last Thursday
Gurinder Singh Josan, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee who is also a Unite member, tweeted: ‘Howard showing his true colours?
‘I totally disagree on pretty much everything with Priti Patel but this is simply dog whistle racism against a woman of colour. Delete this now!’
Mr Beckett initially refused to back down, arguing that his tweet was ‘about society being able to do without anyone who promotes racism’.
However, he removed it last night, writing: ‘I’m very sorry for my earlier tweet. I was angry to see Muslim refugees being deported on the morning of Eid Al Fitr.’
Neither of the men involved in the situation in Glasgow are Muslim.
The two men are released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van accompanied by lawyer Aamer Anwar and Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, in Glagow last week
A huge ring of police officers surrounded the two men as they were released and walked away from the immigration van
Miss Patel was born in London after her parents came to Britain from Uganda in the 1960s.
Mr Beckett is the closest lieutenant to the outgoing Mr McCluskey and is currently assistant general secretary.
Speaking about the incident in Glasgow, Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the Home Office’s actions had been ‘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.’
However, a source close to Miss Patel condemned the actions of the demonstrators, claiming: ‘It is completely unacceptable for a mob to stop the lawful removal of people living in our country illegally.
‘This government 100 per cent backs the frontline in removing those with no right to be here.’
Dozens of police officers surround the two men as they were released from custody following a huge stand-off in Glasgow
Demonstrators sat in front of police by an immigration van in Glasgow last Thursday
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she is ‘deeply concerned’ about the incident ‘in the heart of a community celebrating Eid’, adding: ‘My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained’