Hajj dreams of 185 Muslims fall apart for deception
Dreams of 185 people to perform Hajj this year were shattered yesterday after some brokers of three travel agencies where they signed up and deposited money deceived them.
The brokers had promised to send the victims to Saudi Arabia yesterday although they did not obtain visas and asked them to come to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the morning, officials at the Hajji camp said. On their arrival, they found none of the agents there.
“The agency people took Tk 2.25 lakh to Tk 3 lakh from each of us,” said Lal Miah, a victim from Phulpur upazila of Mymensingh. They also took away their passports, he added.
The three registered agencies are South Asian Travels, Saudi Hajj Air Service, and Sandwip Air Service, said an official wishing anonymity.
With the last Hajj flight with 450 pilgrims due to take off from Dhaka today and the victims' chances of travel reducing to zero, the aggrieved people demonstrated at the airport yesterday.
During a couple of hours of protest, they tried to lay a siege to the airport road around 4:00pm but withdrew after police and Hajj taskforce officials promised harsh action against the frauds.
“We'll take tough legal action against the fraudulent travel agents and brokers after identifying them,” said Joynal Abedin Talukder, joint secretary to the civil aviation ministry.
In all, 89,187 devotees were to perform Hajj from Bangladesh. Of them, 87,213 have travelled to the holy land with Biman carrying 42,784 and Saudi Arabian Airlines carrying the rest.
Apart from the 185 ill-fated devotees, 1,044 others could not go as they did not have visas particularly failing to obtain police clearance and comply with Saudi government's rules, said Joynal.