Two Indian men who were being held in a detention van in Glasgow, Scotland over "suspected immigration offences" were freed with the aid of a human rights lawyer and direct action, after the citizens of the Scottish city staged an eight-hour protest to free them.
A chief and a mechanic by profession, Sumit Sehdev and Lakhvir Singh have reportedly been in the United Kingdom for 10 years.
On Thursday, 13 May, six UK Immigration Enforcement officers, backed by Police Scotland, hauled them from their home in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow and put them into a vehicle headed towards a detention centre, PTI reported.
However, the van was quickly surrounded by a large crowd of people determined to free them.
A Pakistani-origin human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar spoke to ITV News and said, “This was a cynical and provocative action by the Home Office to do it on the day of Eid. To be honest, they don’t give a damn about the lives of these people, but the people of Glasgow do.”
He added, "This city is built on the backs of refugees, people who've given their blood, sweat and tears to build this city. We stand firmly with these men,” PTI reported.
The event took place on Eid and accompanied by Anwar, the two men walked towards the local mosque, with over hundreds cheering, clapping, and waving placards that read "refugees are welcome.”
Videos of the incident went viral on social media platforms, and displayed protesters chanting "Leave our neighbours, let them go" and "Cops go home" during the hours-long demonstration.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter and said, "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 and immigration policy.”
According to a statement by the Home Office, the operation was "conducted in relation to suspected immigration offences".
Police Scotland later said it had to make an operational decision to protect the public’s well-being and safety and the men were released on bail.