Srinagar: Like many others, you must be eager to perform Umrah as the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia has not been possible from Kashmir valley ever since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic last year.
And if you are coming across advertisements offering Umrah, please note that no operator is yet offering a package from here. Yes, Saudi Arabia has opened its doors for Umrah for several countries but intending Kashmiri pilgrims have to wait as of now.
Don’t get fleeced in the name of Umrah
The Jammu Kashmir Association of Hajj Umrah Companies (JKAHUC) said only ‘fraudulent’ companies were presently offering Umrah packages from Kashmir valley.
“It is our utmost duty to inform the public in general that fraudulent and deceptive travel packages have become frequent and it has come to our notice that some tour operators are taking bookings for Umrah pilgrimage for the upcoming session and have taken advance payments for the same. It is to notify and inform the public in general and umrah aspirants in particular as to be vigilant and not to fall for any such packages,” JKAHUC general secretary Mohammad Younis said in a notice.
“Umrah travel restrictions have not been lifted yet and there have been no formal confirmations from the government authorities as to when restrictions will be lifted. Neither any tour operator can arrange a pilgrimage tour, nor can he give any rates in advance. The recent news of the pilgrimage was about the Government Hajj Bookings, which is scheduled every year and is solely handled by the Haj Committee of India. Private Umrah pilgrimage tours are still restricted for foreign nationals. So we urge everyone not to deposit any kind of advance payments towards booking their umrah travel package,” he added.
Is Umrah possible from Kashmir?
As there are no Umrah bookings available, pilgrimage as of now is only possible through a visit visa and that can cost you up to Rs. 2,80,000. Before the Covid, Umrah packages would start from around Rs. 80,000.
If people want to perform Umrah, they will need to go on a visit visa and they have to be in quarantine for two weeks in a ‘third country’.
However, as per JKAHUC media secretary Saleem Jabbar no private company was presently having a package that would enable Umrah on a visit visa either.
“An Umrah visa costs Rs. 14,000 but a visit visa will cost Rs. 80,0000. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous elements had started telling people to pay advance for Umrah and that the same would be confirmed next month. How can they book when no package is available? And if any company offers a package, it has to tell the cost of the package before doing bookings,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Whom to contact?
If somebody is offering you an Umrah package, you can get in touch with the Jammu Kashmir Association of Hajj Umrah Companies (JKAHUC) for clarifications. Feel free to contact JKAHUC general secretary Mohammad Younis (8803057750) or the media secretary of the association Saleem Jabbar (9906673377) if any fraudulent company is telling you to deposit an advance payment for Umrah. After all, several scandals of private companies duping intending pilgrims in the name of Haj and Umrah had surfaced in the past in the Kashmir valley.