Indian community seek probe into ‘witch doctors’ in New Zealand

Wellington, Aug 1 (IANS) Indian community leaders in New Zealand have called for an investigation into on how “Hindu witch doctors” have been able to operate in the country.

The leaders also criticised the local diaspora media for allowing such practices to be advertised while asking the Hindu community to avoid using the services of such priests, “witch doctors” and astrologers, media reports said.

Nearly 20 people gathered for a community meeting in Auckland’s Mount Roskill suburb on Saturday to tackle the issue of witch doctors targeting the vulnerable in their community, web portal New Zealand Herald reported.

“This is one of our biggest concerns,” Indian community leader Pratima Nand, who chaired the meeting, was quoted as saying.

“Those who are sponsoring these people should be made accountable for any unwarranted activities committed by these people who have been sponsored into the country,” she added.

“Something has to be done to bring a stop to these people. Immigration has a lot to answer for. How are these people getting into the country? Under what criteria?” Chandu Singh, former president of the Auckland Indian Association, told the community.

The leaders resolved to write to New Zealand Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse to start an investigation into how the “witch doctors” were passing immigration checks.

The meeting also said the advertising in media had fuelled the perception that the “priests” were legitimate.

“The local Indian media have failed to safe-guard the community. They are not meant to publish anything that is false, and many of these ads were mere lies,” another member Thakur Ranjit Singh said, adding that the “watch dogs have become the lap dogs”.

The community leaders also called for the local Indian media to develop a code of ethics in order to avoid publishing adverts for “astrologists”.

They also sought codes for the Hindu organisations who sponsor priests from India to come to New Zealand to perform proper background checks and for Hindus moving to New Zealand to “abandon” their belief in such superstitious practices at the border.

The community members also said that a Facebook page named “Sadhu Busters” will be set up to gather information on “witch doctors” from New Zealand.

Earlier, the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) identified nine Indian-origin “witch doctors” on the run after it came to light that they had duped vulnerable people.

Of the nine, five have already left the country, news channel 3News reported.

“The individuals have been asked to respond to INZ’s concerns before a decision is taken on what action to take,” INZ assistant general manager Peter Devoy was quoted as saying.

The “witch doctors” have targetted several people in the Indian community across the country, the channel said.

An Auckland businessman recently filed a police complaint after a witch doctor duped him out of 275,000 New Z ealand dollars (about $181,300) and left the country hours after receiving the cash.

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