Monday, November 05, 2018

100 Haj pilgrims stuck as tour operators squabble

More than 100 Haj pilgrims from Marathawada region scheduled to return from Jeddah on Sunday were stuck in the holy city of Medina after alleged differences between two tour operators led to the cancellation of the journey.
A group of 102 pilgrims from Solapur, Latur, Beed, Osamanabad region had travelled on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina from Mumbai last month and were given a return ticket to Mumbai on an Oman Air Jeddah-Muscat-Mumbai flight. But, when Mirror contacted them, they were stuck in a Medina hotel without proper arrangements.
Shaikh Qayyum, one of the pilgrims, blamed the tour operator Aseel Tours and Travels for the mess. "Aseel Tours and Travel took Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 from each of us for this pilgrimage, and their arrangements were horrible. They did not provide us proper accommodation or meals. There are a lot of elderly people with us, and because we are spending money from our own pocket, we fear our money will get over soon," Qayyum alleged.
He said the tour operator told them that they will travel on a direct Mumbai-Jeddah flight, but on October 19, they were put on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa where after a 10-hour wait, they were taken to Jeddah. "We travelled to Mecca and stayed there for seven days at Tamim Hijaz hotel. Then we arrived in Medina six days ago and were scheduled to return today (Sunday) by an Oman Air flight. When we called Oman Air, they said no one was booked on the flight. Our visa will get over by November 8, and we are really worried how we will get out of here," said Qayyum.
05/11/18 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror