Community action saw hundreds block the detainment of two Indian men
Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) says it is considering legal action against the Home Office for “casting aspersions” on two Indian nationals detained in Glasgow as illegal immigrants.
Lakhvir Singh and Sumit Sehdev were released from Border Force detention after campaigners swarmed around the van in which they were held, preventing it from leaving Kenmure Street in Pollokshields on Thursday.
Demonstrators blocked the vehicle for several hours, with one even lying underneath its axles, before police released the pair on public safety grounds.
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 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."
Qureshi added: "Dawn raid vans have no place going into communities dragging innocent people from their homes. They are not, categorically not, criminals."
First minister Nicola Sturgeon denounced the attempted deportation, branding it “dangerous” and “unacceptable.”
“I disagree fundamentally with Home Office immigration policy but even putting that aside, this action was unacceptable,” she wrote on Facebook.
“To act in this way, in the heart of a Muslim community as they celebrated Eid, and in an area experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak was a health and safety risk.
“Both as MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) and as FM (First Minister), I will be demanding assurances from the UK government that they will never again create, through their actions, such a dangerous situation. No assurances were given — and frankly, no empathy shown — when I managed to speak to a junior minister earlier.”
She added: “I am proud to represent a constituency and lead a country that welcomes and shows support to asylum seekers and refugees.”
Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was among the hundreds of neighbors protesting against the action.
“We are here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state,” Asif said. “The same people who ran from British and American bombs are in the back of the van right now and are about to be deported.
“It is on Eid, you know. The guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It is a sad day.”