HAJJ ASPIRANTS DUPED AGAIN
Srinagar, Feb 7: Barely months after a city based tour operator duped at least 126 Hajj aspirants, a fresh case of “fraud” by a tour operator Al-Habib came to fore in the Valley.
Police has detained the accused and registered an FIR in the duping case in police station Karan Nagar.
They said the tour operator – Al-Habib – operating from Karan Nagar area had allegedly deceived around 30 Hajj aspirants from across the Valley after taking advance payments and refused travel documents to them.
The aspiring pilgrims told that the representatives of Al-Habib, particularly its owner, cheated them.
“When we went to enquire about the status of our travel documents we were stunned to find the operator had disappeared. None of the office bearers was present there,” the protesters said. “After searching further, we realized that we have been duped and the Al-Habib people are absconding.”
Police said they had arrested the accused Abdul Khaliq and the investigations were on. “Khaliq was later released on bail as he is suffering from a kidney ailment,” police said.
Muhammad Shafi Jan, a retired Kashmir University employee from Malabagh, Hazratbal said he had deposited around Rs 5 lakh for the holy pilgrimage from his gratuity fund for himself and wife.
“I had paid the money last year with the operator but we have been left shattered,” he said.
Another aspirant, Ghulam Ahmad of Ganderbal said the Al-Habib owner has told them that he had booked tickets for some of them so that “we didn’t suspect him.” “But, later we came to know he was lying to us,” he said.
The protesters said the government has time and again failed to safeguard the interests of aspiring Hajjis. “It is for the third consecutive time that aspiring Hajjis have been duped and the government is caught napping,” they alleged.
Last year, a private firm Hajeej India duped a number of Hajj aspirants, leading to registration of case against its owner and his subsequent arrest. A court later granted interim bail to the accused after he agreed to deposit an amount of Rs 2 crore in the account of Sessions Court. The Hajeej India had swindled staggering Rs 10 crore by allegedly duping more than 500 aspiring Hajj aspirants.
In October 2012, another Tour Operator Al-Balaagh duped around 126 Hajj aspirants.