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Seize Srinagar Haj travel operator's property: Probe team

Saturday November 26, 2011 11:18:29 PM, IANS

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Kashmir Haj pilgrims duped by travel agency

Despite paying all expenses, more than 500 Kashmiris cannot perform the Haj pilgrimage this year thanks to a local travel agency that backed out at the last moment, the victims say. Dozens of locals who had paid all expenses to a local travel agency one year earlier for   

Srinagar: A team probing the duping of over 500 people by a local Haj tour operator Saturday recommended confiscation of his property to compensate the duped pilgrims, an official statement said here.

Srinagar's Additional District Magistrate Muhammad Akbar Ganai, who was appointed to probe the alleged duping of the Haj pilgrims by Al-Hajeej, a local tour agency, has recommended confiscation of the operator's immoveable properties.

In his inquiry report, Ganai said that all the 500 passports of the intending pilgrims duped by the tour operator have already been recovered from him and are now being released to the passport holders in accordance with the law.

The enquiry officer has recommended that the properties in the name of the tour agency owner be confiscated and put to auction after completing legal formalities so that the duped pilgrims are compensated. The properties include a hotel at Ajmer (Rajasthan), a flat at Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) and a house in Srinagar.

The victims should be compensated for the sums of money they gave the tour operator for the promised arrangements for this year's Haj, the officer's report said.

As a future precaution, the enquiry officer has recommended that an audit be carried out of all such tour operators and travel agencies which are involved in this trade. No tour operator be allowed to do business regarding Haj and Umrah unless he has obtained a no objection certificate from the state Haj committee.

More than 500 intending local pilgrims were duped of more than Rs.10 crore after the Al-Hajeej tour and travel agency failed to arrange for their departure to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage this year.

The owners of the travel agency had said they could not arrange for the departure of their clients as the travel documents had not been received from the Saudi embassy in New Delhi.

The lid was blown from the fraud after the owners failed to refund the huge amounts of money they had collected from the clients.






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