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Missing Indian pilgrims were part of immigration scam

Indian pilgrims who have gone missing in New Zealand are believed to be a part of an immigration scam, media reports said.

An Auckland Justice of the Peace has disclosed that few of them said they had paid 15,000 NZ dollars to the "agents" back home who told them they could stay in New Zealand, a report said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Catholic church spokesperson Lyndsay Freer said that nobody in the church had any inkling that anything like this was going to happen.

"As far as I know, nobody in the church would have any inkling that anything like this was happening. It appears World Youth Day has been used as an excuse and that is really quite alarming. One hopes it doesn't reach a greater scale in Australia for example," Freer was quoted as saying.

New Zealand Catholic parishes hosts 4000 pilgrims prior to the day and among them 220 Indian worshippers were given a month long visitor visas earlier this month and were due to fly out on Tuesday.

The 32 pilgrims went missing in past four to five days.

The Labour Department on Monday said that they were legally permitted to stay as long as their visas were valid. The officials from the department said they were searching the 32 pilgrims who disappeared from their billets while staying in Auckland prior to Catholic World Youth Day in Sydney.

Also, Immigration New Zealand was working closely with its counterparts in Australia on the matter.

Source: ET


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