Indian pilgrims” caught in immigration scam in New Zealand devastated

July 18th, 2008 - 12:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Wellington, July 18 (ANI): Three Indian pilgrims have met immigration officials to tell them of the scam that cost their parents 17,000 dollars, and dashed their dreams of a better life in New Zealand.

The 25-year-old men, flanked by two representatives of Aucklands Sikh Society and the person they are staying with in Bay of Plenty, met officials for nearly two hours in Auckland on Thursday.

But they have not said if they will remain in New Zealand once their visitor visas expire early next month.

Another 36 Indian pilgrims, who failed to board their flights to Sydney to see the Pope, are still missing, stuff.co.nz reported.

Interpreting for the men before the meeting, Sikh society spokesman Daljit Singh said that they were devastated when they discovered their visas were temporary.

Everything was organised by the agent. This is very disappointing to them. They are feeling that they have been robbed, Singh added.

The men were among 3000 pilgrims from 16 countries hosted by the Catholic Church in Auckland before World Youth Day events in Australia this week.

Singh said 17,000 dollars paid by pilgrims parents to an agent to give their sons a better life was a huge sum.

We took all the money from our parents to come to New Zealand on the basis we can establish in New Zealand, one of the men said.

The men would not reveal their faces or names because they feared for their safety once they returned to India.

Theyre going to disclose who were involved in the scam. These questions actually make it hard for them to return right now, Singh said.

The men, from Punjab, were Catholic, unlike others among the 39 who were Hindu or Muslim.

One of them said: We haven”t breached any conditions yet. We only came in here to tell our story to immigration. (ANI)

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