Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Red tape blocks new life after slaying tragedy

Immigration officials refuse to allow new wife to live here

Dev Sangha hoped that a new love and a new life would help him after the slaying of his family three years ago.

But the former taxi driver fears that hope may be lost after officials rejected his new wife's application to live in New Zealand.

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye has intervened and is reviewing the case.

Mr Sangha is desperate to bring from India the woman who he says has guided him through the pain and darkness lingering from the murder of his wife Ravneet and 2-year-old daughter Anna.

He remained stunned that, despite his ordeal, a recent policy change meant he could not sponsor a third partner for a visa.

"It's not her fault. Why does she have to live away from her husband when she hasn't done any crimes?" a frustrated Mr Sangha told the Weekend Herald.

He could not understand why his tragic circumstances could not demand leniency.

"Nobody can tell what is going to happen tomorrow, or what God is going to do to them," Mr Sangha said.

On June 4, 2010, he was visiting relatives in India when Deepak Nagpal, a boarder at the family home in Tauranga, stabbed his wife and daughter to death in what would be described as a determined, frenzied, violent and sustained attack.

Mr Sangha was standing in the middle of a crowded Hong Kong airport when he received the call on his cellphone.

"I lost everything," he said this week. "If I look back from today ... my daughter should be turning 5 and going to primary school."

He fell into a deep depression after the murders. He would be found crying alone, and sympathetic workmates would come and take him into town at night.

"I was missing (my family) a lot, and they were urging me to find another woman ... to marry and to move ahead with life ... and I didn't really want to."

Weeks after starting work again in 2011, he was attacked by five people when he refused to give them a free ride.

With little money, he returned to India in August that year.

His family began introducing him to women but it was a friend of his cousin Amar with whom he found a special connection.

Over two days, he poured his heart out to her. "I found she was the right lady for me ... and we fell in love."

Their families arranged their marriage, and they were soon engaged with a plan to settle in Tauranga together.

The couple applied for a visa for Mrs Sangha under a partnership-based application, with Mr Sangha acting as a sponsor.

She applied from India, while he travelled back to New Zealand and was interviewed over the phone.

He supplied Immigration New Zealand with his former wife's death certificate - and even provided newspaper clippings about the murder as proof of the tragedy.

Mr Sangha said he was uncomfortable with some of the questions he was asked, which touched on the circumstances of the murders, but gave answers.

But this year, Immigration New Zealand told his wife her application had been turned down, apparently because Mr Sangha was sponsoring a wife for the third time.

It acknowledged that he would not have had to do so had his second wife not been murdered.

A letter from the department to Mrs Sangha said: "Your application does not meet the relevant immigration instructions as Dev Sangha would also not be able to sponsor your residence application under partnership as he would not be an eligible sponsor under residence instructions either, hence not eligible for an exception."

They were told they could apply again if they wished.

Mr Sangha called the decision "ridiculous".

"What can I do now? People are telling me to go to Australia but I love New Zealand. I've been here the last 18 years ... this is my life.

"Why should I go to Australia? I'm a New Zealander ... I should have the right to bring my wife here."

"I've spent 18 months working hard, paying taxes ... why is it my fault?"

He felt guilty that his wife was stranded in India, and the closest the couple got was daily phone calls.

If he had known what she would have to go through, he said he would have even spared her the trouble by breaking off their engagement.

But she never blamed him.

"She's very happy to have me as a husband, but she feels sad for me because she knows what hell I've been through ... she always says, 'I'm sorry I'm not there to support you."

Mr Sangha, who is working in the kiwifruit industry and plans to save enough to buy another taxi, said he had not given up all hope that his wife could one day join him in Tauranga.

He has appealed to local MP Simon Bridges, and has been supported with letters from numerous friends, the Supreme Sikh Council of New Zealand and the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association.

"I'm really happy, but I'm sad because she's not here with me physically. But mentally ... she's always with me."

Representatives of Ms Kaye and for Immigration New Zealand said no comment could be made while an inquiry was in progress.

- NZ Herald

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