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Aspiring Hajis beware of bogus tour operators

Aspiring Hajis beware of bogus tour operators

Hyderabad, Jun 18 (UNI) Haj & Umrah Tours Organizers' Association Hyderabad (AP&TS) has appealed aspiring Haj pilgrims to be cautious about booking their Haj visits with private tour operators.

Talking to media here on Monday, Haj & Umrah Tours Organizers' Association Hyderabad (AP&TS) General Secretary Abdul Razzak Qamar said, "The Ministry of Minority affairs have allotted quota for 2018 Haj Pilgrims applying through Category 1 and Category 2 from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States. Telangana State has been allotted a total quota of 2665. Of them 1665 under category 1 and 1000 persons under category 2."

Andhra Pradesh has a total quota of 546 pilgrims (196 in category 1 and 350 in Category 2).

The Ministry issues one license every year with one-year validity to eligible Private Tour Operators (PTOs) . Under category 1 refers to private Haj Tour Operators who have more than 7 Registration of Haj licenses from Ministry of Minority Affairs while PTOs with less than seven licenses are listed under Category 2.

Under category 1, Telangana State has 17 PTOs having a quota of 98 pilgrims. In category 2 where there are 20 PTOs in the state, each PTO has been granted a quota of 50 pilgrims.

According to Mohammed Masiuddin Joint Secretary, "The tax burden on every pilgrim has increased from this year and every pilgrim is required to pay 5 per cent GST towards Indian government and an additional 10 per cent tax payable to Saudi Arabian government in the form of VAT (5 per cent) and Municipal tax (5 per cent).

The association warned aspiring pilgrims to "Verify the authenticity of their tour operator by demanding their operating license certificate", which is issued by the Ministry and needs to be renewed every year. Pilgrims can also check the list of genuine Private Tour Operators which is listed on the website of the association as well as the website of Ministry of Minority Affairs.

The association has been undertaking awareness campaigns for the last two years, aims to bring awareness among pilgrims. This year, Hajis have to follow new guidelines and make their Haj payment account-to-account-- directly from the pilgrim's account to the operator's account, and cash payments are not accepted.

Pilgrims must be very cautious from fraudsters and illegal tour operators", he said citing recent fraud cases in Hyderabad and Cuddapah by bogus tour operators namely KSS Tour Operators among others who duped more than 4000 Haj pilgrims recently. These bogus operators claimed to arrange Haj & Umrah tours at lucrative prices. Some unregistered PTOs claim to have partnership with registered PTOs, which is not approved by the Ministry, and such booking would be illegal, and void.

"Many pilgrims, in their incognizance, get carried away by advertisements claiming cheap packages, and impersonating tour operators. They often end up losing hard-earned money and losing their passports", he said. No operator can undertake advance bookings for Haj 2019 as both the quota and license for the said year is issued by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in the same year, he added.

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