Three runaway Indians to give details of New Zealand visa scam

July 17th, 2008 - 8:08 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, July 17 (DPA) Three Indian men who disappeared in New Zealand while on the way to Australia to see the Pope have agreed to tell all about the swindlers who tricked them into believing they would be allowed to stay, Auckland Sikh leader Daljit Singh said Thursday. He said the trio would meet with immigration officials to reveal who took Rs.500,000 ($12,000) each from 39 Indians who failed to catch scheduled flights to Sydney for the Catholic World Youth Day festival Tuesday, after a week-long transit stay in Auckland.

The men, all reportedly aged 17 to 35 and mainly from Jalandhar in the Punjab, masqueraded as Catholics among Indian church groups en route to Australia. Some are actually Muslim and Hindu, Radio New Zealand reported.

They were given automatic 30-day visitor visas on arrival in Auckland and so are in the country legally until they expire, but Singh said they had been assured by a so-called immigration agent in India that they would get permanent residence on arrival, and had intended to stay.

The 39 men were part of a group of 220 Indians who stopped over for stays with Catholic Auckland families on their way to Sydney.

Singh said they disappeared from their billeted accommodation, many leaving their luggage behind, and did not check in for flights Tuesday to Australia with the rest of the party.

Catholic organizers of the stopover kept the Indians’ passports, which have been passed to immigration officials.

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