SRINAGAR, Aug 10: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has qualified only 5 Hajj travel operators from Kashmir this year out of last year’s nine. However the total quota for taking the pilgrims has not been affected.
This year only Labaika Haj & Umrah Services, Srinagar; AlKhuddam Hajj & Umrah Services, Srinagar; Gazi Tours & Travels, Magam, Gulmarg; Universe Travel Corporation, Srinagar and Behreen Travels, Srinagar have been authorised by the MEA to organise the annual Hajj pilgrimage for Kashmiris.
Pertinently at least 500 Hajj aspirants missed the chance of performing the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina last year after the travel company, Hajeej India, which they had applied through turned out to be a bogus one.
The owner of the company was later arrested and an investigation is going on. More the 10 crore rupees have been swindled by the company which are being recovered by authorities.
The incident has affected the business of private Hajj operators, says Umer Tibetbaqaal of the Labaika Hajj and Umrah Services, who blames the authorities of laxity in dealing with bogus companies.
“This year the MEA has authorised only 5 travel operators for the Hajj services and the quota of the other companies which have not been cleared has been distributed among us, thus people wont suffer. But people are scared to come to us, they dont want to be duped again, ” he says.
“We have been qualified by the external affairs ministry, but even then some companies which were exposed as being fraud are still operating and the government is not stopping them,” he says adding, “Are they waiting for another scandal of that sorts?”