Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Indian student vigil in final days: Unitarian Church minister

It's a down day at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby as nine remaining students face possibly ending their vigil in the next few days. Photo / Brett Phibbs
It's a down day at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby as nine remaining students face possibly ending their vigil in the next few days. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Supporters of Indian students who have taken sanctuary in an Auckland church to avoid deportation say the students' vigil is entering its final days.

"It's kind of a down day round here," said Reverend Clay Nelson at the Unitarian Church in Ponsonby, which took in the 10 students on Waitangi Day after the Government declined to intervene to stop them being deported.

"It certainly looks like the Government is not going to relent so the students are going to figure out individually at this point how they want to wrap it up, so I think we are in the final days of this."

One of the students was detained on Wednesday morning at his home address in Blockhouse Bay and is due to be put on a plane to India at 2.15pm today.

Nelson visited him yesterday in the Auckland Central police cells and found him "in bad shape".

"It was heartbreaking to visit him, and I certainly don't want to see that happen to the rest of them, frankly," Nelson said.

"Emotionally he was just drained and somewhat crushed. The humiliation of it, being alone, no support around him during the day. Those of us visiting him felt his powerlessness in the face of this."

Nelson said the man had not told anyone in India that he was coming home, and did not know how he would get from an international airport to his home city of Hyderabad.

The students are being deported because their agents submitted fraudulent bank documents purporting to show that they had enough money to pay their tuition fees.

The students say they did not know what their agents had done, but the Government says they are responsible because they signed their visa applications.

Their lawyer Alastair McClymont said he expected to meet Immigration NZ officials again today "to try and work out some solution".

"The students have realised that they can probably hang on for another week and try and get something. They are deliberating as to whether they can carry on or find some other solution," he said.

"They are scared. The thing they are petrified of is being in police cells."

- NZ Herald

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