Missing Indians to tell all on visa scam

Three Indian WYD pilgrims who went missing in New Zealand say that they will expose swindlers who allegedly tricked them into believing they would be allowed to stay.

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, the Thai Indian reports.

He said the trio would meet with immigration officials to reveal who took Rs. 500,000 ($A10,000) 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 on Tuesday to Australia with the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, the head of Auckland's World Youth Day committee has made a plea for the pilgrims to present themselves to authorities, NZ Catholic says.

Maurice Boland, chairman of the Auckland World Youth Day committee, said the group's actions have "caused considerable anguish to their families, their faith, their country, and have imposed an added burden to authorities in New Zealand, Australia and India".

He said the Church was working with immigration officials in an effort to "resolve this unfortunate situation".

"On behalf of all the generous people involved in World Youth Day, we make a sincere appeal to the 39 missing to present themselves to the authorities," Mr Boland said.

"As you know, you were warmly welcomed to New Zealand and that welcome still exists. However, every day you continue with your fruitless pretence of staying in our country is a further day closer to when your temporary stay will turn from being legal to being entirely illegal."

The last of the Indians World Youth Day pilgrims left Auckland on Tuesday. Mr Boland said there were emotional scenes as new friends were bid farewell, but speaking to the missing pilgrims, said "you . . . were left behind depriving yourselves of sharing this wonderful event, along with your countrymen and many other nationalities."

"Use your God given free will, ignore those who have not acted in your best interests, and we pray for your safe and secure return as soon as possible," he said.

SOURCE

WYD official pleads for missing Indians to turn themselves in (NZ Catholic, 17/7/08)

Three runaway Indians to give details of New Zealand visa scam (Thai-Indian, 17/7/08)

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