The State government will crackdown on private Haj pilgrimage operators who cheat aspiring pilgrims by collecting money and not facilitating the journey.
Following several complaints in this regard, Home Minister K.J. George and Minister for Information and Haj R. Roshan Baig held a meeting with senior officials of the Police Department and the Karnataka State Haj Committee on Saturday.
After the meeting, Mr. George told presspersons that he had directed Bangalore City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H. Auradkar to review pending cases, investigate complaints, and take stringent action against such operators.
Mr. Baig appealed to people to take up Haj pilgrimage through tour operators recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). He said many aspiring pilgrims lost their money and the desire to take up the pilgrimage thanks to unrecognised and unscrupulous tour operators.
While 7,000 pilgrims from Karnataka go on the pilgrimage through government quota every year, nearly 4,000 go through private tour operators. This apart, nearly 10,000 from the State perform Umra (pilgrimage during non-Haj season). Of the 863 recognised private tour operators in the country, 25 were from Karnataka, Mr. Baig said.
The Minister said several operators who were not recognised by the MEA also organise Haj tours. He alleged that these operators had a network of agents across the State to lure people through advertisements in local newspapers. “They collect money and later abscond, leaving the aspiring pilgrims in the lurch. Following several complaints, we have asked the State Haj committee to publicise the list of recognised tour operators,” Mr. Baig said.