State to crack down on illegal Haj tour operators

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Bang Hajj_Ap 26_2014-002

Bangalore: Home Minister K J George on Saturday directed the State police to crack down on illegal private tour operators who were duping the public by promising them Haj and Umrah tours at affordable rates.

Speaking to reporters after holding a meeting with Additional Chief Secretary S K Pattanayak and Bangalore City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar, George said there have been several complaints of prospective Haj and Umrah pilgrims being duped by private tour operators.

The illegal firms collect money from prospective pilgrims but the promised tour never happens. There were many instances when the pilgrims had been left stranded at the airport with their baggage, George said. He said the menace was prevalent especially in Bangalore.

Only 40 Haj private tour operators in the State had been recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs, but a lot more operated without the required criteria, he said. George said the police will launch a thorough investigation and crack down on such illegal private operators.

Haj Minister Roshan Baig said he had taken up the issue with the Home minister following complaints from the public.

Baig said the Ministry of External Affairs had recognised about 863 private tour operators in the country, of which about 25 are from Karnataka. In addition, a plenty of unrecognised operators are working in all district conducting Umrah tours. They offer affordable rates by advertising in the media. Pilgrims going on such tours face hardships and also lose money.

Baig said the quota fixed by the Haj Committee for Karnataka to be taken on Haj pilgrimage on government subsidy was Rs 7,000 per annum. On an average another 3,000 took up Haj tour from private operators, he said. As many as 10,000 went on Umrah tour every year through private operators and there is no government subsidy for the Umrah pilgrimage, he added.

He said a list of the private tour operators in the State approved by ministry of External Affairs would be published in the media soon.

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