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Travel agency allegedly cheats Hajj aspirants of crores of rupees

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Srinagar,: A travel agency in Srinagar allegedly cheated several people by claiming to send them on holy journey of Hajj.
Imaan tour and travels, Hajj & Umrah Service allegedly collected money from 90 to 100 Haj aspirants but failed to send them on the pilgrimage.
According to one of the Hajj aspirants, Owais Ahmad Kareem (hailing from bulbulanker Srinagar), last year the travel agency Imaan Tour and travels claimed to send pilgrims to Makah and accordingly he collected Rs 2 to 3 lacs each from around 90 to 100 pilgrims from Kashmir valley.
However according to Owais the fraud came to light when people did not receive call from the agency even after the date for travel and other formalities for Hajj was due. “More than 100 Haj aspirants have been cheated of several crores by a travel agency with the fake promises of providing visas,” alleged Owais.
He claimed that he along with his family members and other friends submitted passport and around 10 lac rupees to the agency for the Hajj and visa. “However, even after the Haj pilgrimage started, passport was not returned to us with visa. Excuses were made and the agency told us that the delay was caused due to unavoidable circumstances and we were asked to wait,” he maintained.
Owais was then told that he and his family would not get a chance to go on pilgrimage as the visa was not issued to them. “After various inquiries I found out that the agency had cheated around 95 to 100 other Haj aspirants this year,” he said.
Some receipts in the possession of KNS clearly show Lacs of rupees having been received by the Travel agency.
Owais has also accused police of protecting the agency and subjecting him and other Haj aspirants to mental harassment. “Instead the police should have taken some action, they harassed us. Yesterday I received a call from Sherigadi police station to report there and accordingly when I went to police station they put me behind the bars,” he alleged.
SHO Sherigadi, Javaid Ahmad refused to comment on the issue. “No we have not registered case. You come to me I will tell you. I cannot give you details right now,” he told this correspondent on phone.
The Hajj Aspirants however said that we were told to register complaint in Police station Rajbagh but after realizing the same kind of treatment in the other police station they approached the Director tourism Kashmir to blacklist the said tour company and lodge FIR against it.
The copy of complaint which is also in the possession of KNS reads, “Emaan Tour and Travels located at Gogjibagh Srinagar duped various Hajj aspirants last year and this year too. Last year I along with 50 persons (year 2017) and this year (2018) around 100 persons paid Rs. 3.60 lacs per person for performing Haj but the travel agency duped us on the pretext that the said travel agency could not arrange visa when as a matter of fact we had made all arrangements including clothings and other useable items required for performing Hajj,”.
The complaint further reads, “Last year we could not do anything as he requested us that in the year 2018 they will be getting visa as he has made all the arrangements for performing haj. We were hopeful that this year we will perform haj as he had given the date for our departure by 10th of August 2018. We were astonished when on the day of departure he called us and said that he is unable to do anything. We had made all the arrangements but he duped us all. The said tour and travel agency has been established only to cheat and fraud purposes to loot the innocent persons that too on the name of religious affairs. Sir now we approached you to blacklist the said tour company so that innocents may not suffer in future that too for Haj,”
“It is as such requested that the said tour and travel agency may kindly be blacklisted and the office situated at Gogjibagh be sealed immediately and the concerned person be put behind the bars for cheating the innocent persons. We are also requesting you to lodge FIR against the same fraud travel agency,” the complaint reads.
It is to mention here that in 2017 the tourism enforcement wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police has busted an “illegal/un-registered Hajj/Umrah Tour & Travel agency operating in the valley” and arrested two persons.
The Divisional Administration Kashmir in the month of June had also cautioned the public against the operations of unregistered Tour Operators who are luring the gullible people for Hajj booking.
“It has come to the notice of the office of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir that some unregistered Tour Operators are luring general public and have started Hajj bookings inspite of not being approved by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs to do the same, which tantamount to deceiving the masses,” the statement issued by Dr Abdul Salam Mir, Additional Commissioner Kashmir had said.
He had said that only six tour operators including, Al-Khuddam Hajj & Umrah Services, Universal Travel Corporation, Behreen Travels, Al-Huda Travels, Al-Hayat Hajj & Umrah Services and Gazi Tour & Travels in Kashmir have been approved by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India for making Hajj bookings for the year 2018.
Meanwhile when KNS contacted owner of the travel agency he surprisingly said that he too has been cheated by the Mumbai based travel agency. “It was never my intention to cheat the pilgrims. I have done all the preparations for their Hajj. Even I have completed the orientation program, vaccination of all the pilgrims, but unfortunately I was cheated by the Mumbai based agency, Annas tour and travels,” he claimed.
He said that the said travel agency did not send visa of the pilgrims on time resulting in delay of their Pilgrimage.
The owner of the travel agency admitted that he has taken money from pilgrims but claims that he is returning it to all of them. “I have paid money to most of the pilgrims and will return it to others soon,” he told KNS.

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