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Indian student in NZ being sent back

Venkata Siva was sponsored by the Gloriavale Christian community to study English and Agriculture.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 13:09 IST

An Indian student in Greymouth, New Zealand, is being sent back to India after he fell out with a commune that supported his visit.

Venkata Siva Rayavarapu, 22, was sponsored by the Gloriavale Christian community to study English and agriculture at its accredited school in Greymouth, a town in the west coast of New Zealand. He had met members of the commune in India three years ago, reports the

However, two weeks ago, Rayavarapu fled the commune claiming that leaders were putting pressure on him to marry a Mexican woman against his wish.

He also alleged that he had to work six days a week milking cows on a 1,700-hectare farm without any wages.

"Studies took a back seat and my life was increasingly controlled by the commune leaders," Rayavarapu alleged.

"I used to get up at 2 a.m. sometimes and work from 3 a.m. till 5.30 p.m., sometimes 6 p.m.," he added.

"There would be a couple of half-hour breaks during the day. I didn't know when I was going to study. I didn't know when I was going to work. The leaders decided everything. Sometimes I got to study for three hours in the morning, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.," he said.

However, Fervent Stedfast, one of the commune leaders, alleged that Rayavarapu was only willing to marry a Kiwi girl as a means of gaining New Zealand residency. Rayavarapu was adamant he did not want to marry a non-New Zealander.

Stedfast said Gloriavale had sponsored Rayavarapu at great expense for the sole reason of teaching him how to help his Indian community, which had been stated on his immigration papers.

"He has used the skills and experience gained at Gloriavale to land a milking job and is applying for a work visa. He wants to work till he has enough money to take back to his impoverished family," Stedfast added.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand immigration department is revoking his temporary permit, unless Rayavarapu shows he has grounds to stay.

Gloriavale is led by Australian-born Hopeful Christian (formerly Neville Cooper). Christian was jailed for five years in 1995 for indecent assault on a 19-year-old woman. He was released from prison the following year, and at 80 is still revered as leader or "chief shepherd".

First Published: Oct 16, 2006 13:09 IST