HYDERABAD: Following the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs, the 32 pilgrims who were trapped in Iraq for a week, are set to return to India on Tuesday. They were stuck in Najaf when their travel agency KSS ceased operations after it was found they were cheating their customers. The pilgrims, who have already boarded their Air Arabia flight for India from Baghdad, will be reaching Mumbai around 5 am. Relatives and friends of the pilgrims, who are mostly from Yakutpura and Old City, will be receiving them and will have to make their own arrangements to bring them back to Hyderabad.
The return tickets were funded by one Mumbai-based ACF Tourism when it was found that KSS had given the tour contract to ACF. Syed Ali Jaffry, a Shia leader, said, “When Indian Embassy officials went to rescue the pilgrims they learnt that the hotel was booked under the name of a local agent working for ACF tourism.
“So the Embassy and Iraqi police called for the local agent and asked him to pay for the return tickets since the hotel was booked under his name. If he hadn’t helped the pilgrims, he would have been subjected to prosecution under the Iraqi law,” Jaffry added.Earlier the tour operator, when he learnt of the case against KSS, had allegedly absconded without paying the bills of the hotel. So the hotel staff had detained the pilgrims and their passports and, their visas also expired.
KSS is allegedly involved in a multi-crore scam. The police have already arrested its chairman Syed Altaf Abedi, Hyderabad branch manager, Mohammed Taqi, Hyderabad employee Hashim and many others. In Kadapa district alone four cases have been booked against the company. KSS were allegedly taking huge amounts of money from aspiring pilgrims in the name of Umrah and Ziyarat. They had also taken their passports. However, when the time of their journeys neared, KSS didn’t follow through with their promises of sending them to pilgrimage.
Travel agent booked for fraud Nearly a month after parents of youngsters jailed overseas on drug charges raised a hue and cry over the implicitness of travel agents, police have arrested one Syed Moosa and his wife. According to the FIR, Moosa and his wife Yasmin Sultana had asked for `6 lakh from one Syed Ahmed Qadri on the pretext of sending him to the US for further studies. However, they had allegedly given a parcel of marijuana to Ahmed at the airport right before departure. When Ahmed reached Qatar, he was arrested.