Haj tour: Man dupes 103 of Rs 3 crore

Decamps with their original passports. Victims approach city police chief.

Bengaluru: Over 100 people from Bengaluru who wanted to perform a Haj pilgrimage were duped by a tour operator with whom they had booked their travel packages. They realised that they have been duped after they found the tour operator’s office in Jayanagar was lying closed and he was not reachable on his mobile phone.

The victims the approached city police commissioner T. Suneel Kumar on Saturday and submitted a memorandum seeking action against Sibgatullah Shareef, the owner of Hareem Tours in Jayanagar 4th Block. They alleged he had decamped with over Rs 3 crore, which he had collected from the victims, and the original passports of 103 Haj aspirants.

According to the complaint, Sibgatullah, who has been running the tour agency for 15 years, took about Rs 3 lakh per head from 103 Haj aspirants as the package price for 40 days. As he offered packages on discounted rates after door-to-door canvassing in Jayanagar and surrounding areas, people thronged his office to book the packages.

One of the victims who had booked Haj package for five of his family members at Rs 14.5 lakh told Deccan Chronicle that he had paid the amount eight months ago and he, along with his family members, was to fly to Saudi Arabia on August 13. Sibgatullah, who is absconding, had told his clients that there would be a vaccination programme on August 6 in R.T. Nagar and the flights to Saudi Arabia will be from August 13.

People who booked the packages by paying the full amount were asked to submit the passports which the operator said would be returned on the day of the journey. However, the Haj aspirants were in for a shock when they found the tour agency closed for three consecutive days since July 31 and Sibgatullah mobile switched off.

The victims waited for next three days enquiring about the tour operator, but in vain. They then

filed a complaint with Tilak Nagar police station and also with the Commissioner of Police and DCP (South-east) Dr Borali-ngaiah. One of the victims who was in tears said that he was saving the money for five years to realise his dream of performing Haj, but lost his earning to a fraud. Meanwhile, Deccan Chronicle tried to contact Sibgatullah’s sons, who were also partners in the business, but found their mobiles phones have also been switched off.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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