An overstaying family faces the agonising decision whether to leave their Tauranga-born son in New Zealand or take him with them back to the slums of India.
Pooja Kapila, whose husband Satinder is in Waikeria Prison awaiting deportation, was so desperate to avoid what she says is the death sentence of being returned to the slums of the Punjab that she refused to sign the documents presented to her at their Te Puke home on October 21.
An investigation has been launched over allegations that two police officers then prised open her clenched fist and forced her to put her thumb print on deportation travel documents.
Mrs Kapila said that so much force was applied to open her fist that she needed medical attention.
A doctor's report detailed minor bruising and swelling to fingers of the right hand, marked tenderness of the fingers and thumb and a marked decrease in the range of movement.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Kapila said it had been a cruel and painful experience which left her very distressed. Going back to a Punjab slum meant they would die because they had no housing, no money and no hope.
The episode has left the family in turmoil. The Kapilas arrived in New Zealand 10 years ago and immediately headed to Te Puke with their 3-year-old daughter Simran - now in her first year at Te Puke High School.
And while they were overstayers, an emotional minefield has developed because a year after they settled in New Zealand, Mrs Kapila gave birth to son Abhay, making him a New Zealand citizen.
Although Mrs Kapila's thumb print was now on Indian travel documentation for her and her daughter, she and Satinder have refused to sign a passport application for their son. It meant that if immigration consultant Tuariki Delamere failed to win an appeal on humanitarian grounds, the boy could not accompany his parents back to India.
A distraught Mrs Kapil told the Bay of Plenty Times that they sooner leave their son behind in order to give him a brighter future in New Zealand.
Until the raids last month, the Kapila family had never considered themselves illegal overstayers because they had spent years paying an Auckland lawyer to act for them to secure permanent residency - and they had the receipts to prove it. It turned out that the last visa extension application filed on their behalf was in 2005 even although they believed the lawyer was acting for them up until last year.
They had earlier been refused refugee status.
The family's plight was further confused by their daughter receiving permission from the Ministry of Education to remain at Te Puke High until at least the end of next year, even although the deportation documents also covered Simran.
The alleged incident on October 21 in which the police acted on instructions from Immigration New Zealand was witnessed by neighbour and landlord, the Reverend Marilynn Williams, an Anglican Deacon and Justice of the Peace.
She said that she was aghast when she saw the police prise the index finger and thumb free from Mrs Kapila's tightly-clenched fist, forcibly place her thumb on an ink pad and then press it on to the documents. The process was overseen by an immigration officer from Hamilton.
When police took Mr Kapila to prison three days earlier, the children were screaming and crying, she said.
Investigations now under way into the alleged incident by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and Immigration New Zealand were the result of a complaint by Mr Delamere - a former Minister of Immigration.
Mr Delamere was shocked at the treatment allegedly meted out to Mrs Kapila. "This is not a third world dictatorship."
He agreed that the Kapilas were making a last desperate attempt to stay in New Zealand by forcing authorities into the moral position where they separate son Abhay from the rest of the family.
"Their only chance of success is through their son."
Mr Delamere said the right place for the Kapilas' permanent residency to be decided was the independent Immigration Protection Tribunal.
"The family should be allowed to stay together in New Zealand."
He said there was nothing in the law which allowed immigration authorities to use violence to force an overstayer to sign a travel document.
Mr Delamere said immigration officers had a duty to deport overstayers.
"What I will never accept are the tactics of a police state mentality whereby Immigration New Zealand officers, supported by police, think they can act outside the law in carrying out the functions of deportation."
A series of questions on the allegations were put to Immigration New Zealand by the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act. It also drew on a witness declaration form signed by the Rev Williams and Te Puke resident Deepak Kumar, who was also present on October 21.
Immigration New Zealand acting general manager Peter Elms said: "Immigration takes such allegations very seriously and has acted swiftly to establish the facts."
However, it was inappropriate to comment on the case until the Police Complaints Authority had finished its investigation, he said.
The Bay's police district commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said the police were asked to obtain fingerprints by an immigration officer with whom they had worked on several occasions.
"There has been an allegation made. We are disappointed about the use of such emotive language and the nature of the claim."
He said the independent investigation would look to establish whether the matter was handled correctly.