ACC begins probe into hajj agency anomalies | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 01, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, September 01, 2017

ACC begins probe into hajj agency anomalies

The Anti-Corruption Commission has launched a probe into the alleged irregularities and misappropriation of money of 98 pilgrims by 18 hajj agencies.

ACC officials said its Deputy Director Zulfikar Ali has been tasked with the enquiry.

Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, public relations officer of ACC, said the graft watchdog took the initiative on the basis of a report run by Daily Prothom Alo on Wednesday.

The ACC on Wednesday night carried out drives at the offices of Pan Bright and Golden Travels, two among the 18 hajj agencies, in Dhaka and Chittagong, but found none.

The Hajj Office on behalf of the victim pilgrims on August 28 filed a general diary with Biman Bandar Police Station over the alleged irregularities and misappropriation of money.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism at a meeting on Tuesday recommended cancelling licences and slapping fines on the hajj agencies involved in irregularities.

The parliamentary watchdog said many pilgrims couldn't go to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj this year even after obtaining visas as some hajj agencies didn't confirm their air tickets.

The committee, chaired by Awami League lawmaker Faruk Khan, asked the religious affairs ministry to conduct an investigation into the allegations and take legal actions against the fraudulent hajj tour operators.

On August 28, the last day of hajj flight operations, police arrested three brokers of hajj agencies in the capital on charges of cheating pilgrims.

Md Ezaz Shafi, inspector (investigation) of Biman Bandar Police Station, yesterday said they sent three arrestees, Faridur Rahman, Ataur Rahman and his wife Chaina Khatun Sumona, to Keraniganj Central Jail through a Dhaka court.

Abdur Razzak, officer-in-charge of Nandigram Police Station in Bogra, said pilgrim Lokman Ali, who was cheated by a hajj agency, yesterday filed a case with the police station against Faridur Rahman and two other unnamed people for misappropriating money of nine aspirant hajis from his area.

Sayedur Rahman, OC of Puthia Police Station in Rajshahi, said pilgrim Almas Ali yesterday filed a case with the police station against Ataur Rahman and two others for misappropriating money of 23 pilgrims. 

Both the OCs said they have already contacted Biman Bandar Police Station seeking custody of the arrested accused for interrogation.  

A top religious affairs ministry official on Tuesday told journalist that some 98 pilgrims couldn't fly to Saudi Arabia due to fraudulence of 18 hajj agencies. Some victim pilgrims filed a case with Biman Bandar Police Station against the agencies on charges of cheating them, he added.

Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon said 1,27,103 Bangladeshi pilgrims have reached Saudi Arabia since the beginning of pre-hajj flight operation on July 24.

A total of 635 private hajj agencies were involved in this year's hajj tour operations. 

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