Srinagar: After the subsiding of the Omicron threat, bookings for the holy Umrah pilgrimage have witnessed an increase in the Kashmir valley.
The first batch of pilgrims had left the city for performing Umrah on January 23 last month after around two years. While the Covid lockdown had forced suspension of the pilgrimage in March 2020, operators say around 2500 pilgrims from Kashmir had so far embarked on the holy pilgrimage after its resumption.
2500 embark for Umrah from Kashmir
“We have suffered a lot due to the successive lockdowns as Umrah had remained suspended for two years. We are glad that the pilgrimage has resumed even though the Omicron threat had yet again caused cancellations. Now that the threat has subsided, people are again booking packages. To date, around 2500 pilgrims have left for Umrah since last month,” Jammu Kashmir Association of Hajj Umrah Companies (JKAHUC) general secretary Mohammad Younis told The Kashmir Monitor.
‘Tarbiat’ programmes in full swing
Saqib bin Yunis, a group leader, who is all set to lead a batch of 35 fresh pilgrims shortly with the ‘Makkah Madina Tour Travels’, said the ‘tarbiat’ programmes were in full swing these days.
“We are happy that people in Kashmir are booking Umrah packages yet again. Nowadays tarbiat programmes for pilgrims are in full swing. We had a tarbiat programme for 35 pilgrims by Maulana Abdul Majid Dar Al Madni under the aegis of Makkah Madina Tour Travels on Wednesday. We are glad to see pilgrims eager to embark on Umrah and attending these training programmes yet again after a gap of two long years,” Saqib told The Kashmir Monitor.
However, the JKAHUC general secretary warned against fraudulent tour operators and urged intending pilgrims to book Umrah packages with registered agents only.
Operators warn against fraudulent companies
“We urge the pilgrims that they should not fall for fraudulent operators and also the ones that offer low packages and then do not provide good facilities to pilgrims. Some agents offer low packages and then tell the pilgrims that their hotel is close to Kaaba sharif. However, when the pilgrims reach there, they realise that the hotel is far away. A pilgrim should ask for each and every detail before booking a package. He or she should ask for hotels, food, transport, flights and all other details. We also urge the pilgrims to avoid sub-agents and book directly with registered companies,” he said.
Umrah from the Valley had been suspended in March 2020 after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. In December 2021, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allowed licensed and accredited tour operators from six countries including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Pakistan to issue Umrah visas and design packages accordingly. Umrah had finally resumed from Kashmir last month after the completion of formalities by the tour operators.