Pvt tour operator takes 43 pilgrims 'for a ride'

Pvt tour operator takes 43 pilgrims 'for a ride'

Rs 1.85 lakh was collected from each pilgrim for the tour

Pvt tour operator takes 43 pilgrims 'for a ride'

Senior citizens and ‘victims’ of Haj tour arrive at Mangalore on Tuesday evening. DH photo

However, these 43 pilgrims have suffered a lot during their Haj travel, courtesy, private tour operators.

Al-Haramain tours and travels had arranged for Haj travel of 43 pilgrims after collecting Rs 1.85 lakh from each pilgrim.

When they reached Mumbai airport from Jeddah, they realised that their return ticket to Mangalore in Jet Airways had been cancelled and they had to travel all the way to Mangalore in a bus by paying money. In fact, the operators did not pay the money even for the bus ticket.

A K Aboobakar from Adyar, one of the pilgrims said: “We 43 pilgrims including 23 women and 10 aged persons (including a few sick persons) left Mangalore to Jeddah on October 28. Once we reached Jeddah, the agent started harassing us, demanding additional Rs 5,000 each for taking us to Meena and Madina. A few had to borrow money from other pilgrims. Everything was good in the first few days. However, later, the agent started demanding money even while offering food.

According to the terms and conditions of the travel agency, they were supposed to bring us back to Bajpe airport and no extra money were to be charged. However, when we reached Mumbai airport on Monday, we realised that our return tickets have been cancelled as the agent has failed to pay money to Jet Airways. In fact, all the pilgrims will get the visa only after we show our return tickets. We had return e-tickets. But they were of no use. As a result, we had to travel all the way from Mumbai to Mangalore in bus.”

“It is better if the government takes an initiative to ban the private operators arranging for Haj pilgrimage and arrange for the travel through Haj committees,” said another pilgrim Umar of Mani. Haj pilgrimage is being commercialised by these private tours, he alleged.

One of his relatives said “the batch was supposed to reach Mangalore on December 6. We realised that there was some problem in their travel from Jeddah to Mumbai two days ago as the travel agent had failed to pay the money to the operators.

About 150 relatives of the pilgrims gheroed the house of the travel agent at Bandyod in Kasargod and he finally deposited Rs 6 lakh to the operator and pilgrims could finally reach Mumbai.”

“Every year, the problem arises due to private operators. However, it goes unnoticed. If the pilgrims undertake Haj yathra through Haj Committee, then they have to shell out only Rs one lakh.”

The Al-Haramain tours and travels owner could not be reached as his mobile was switched off.