Ten Muslim pilgrims were stranded in Baghdad, Iraq, for 15 days without food and shelter as their Bengaluru-based travel agent failed to book their return tickets.
It was only after Abdul Azeem, the chairman of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission, intervened and police got involved that the travel agent booked their tickets and facilitated their return to Bengaluru on Thursday.
Each pilgrim had paid Rs 65,000 to Al Fazil Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, a travel agent based in Nagarathpet in central Bengaluru. The tour package covered visits to Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala, important holy places for Shia Muslims, besides accommodation and airfare. In all, the travel agent collected Rs 35.10 lakh from 54 pilgrims.
Barring 10, all other pilgrims managed to come back. Those stranded contacted Azeem who acted quickly and filed a complaint with Halasuru Gate police on Tuesday. Police booked Faheem Pasha, 50, the owner of the travel agency, and detained him.
They asked him to book the pilgrims’ return tickets and did not set free until all of them reached Bengaluru safely on Thursday.
Azeem said many travel agents were cheating old people in the name of religious tour packages. Once the pilgrims fly out, the travel agents neither provide them accommodation nor book their return tickets. He demanded that the government cancel the licences of such travel agents.