In a major judgement expected to act as a deterrent for cheats, Jammu and Kashmir Consumer Protection Commission has ordered auction of the immovable property of a Kashmir travel agency – Hajeej Private limited, one and a half years after it duped some 500 Haj aspirants of their money.
The commission headed by justice Kirmani hearing a complaint by an aggrieved person gave directions to the Srinagar revenue department for confiscation of the agency owner’s property to pay those who were duped.
The agency had swindled an amount of Rs. 10 crore in November 2011 from the intending pilgrims after failing to provide them the travel documents for the holy pilgrimage.
Agency owner, Fabiyan Wahid Gilkar was arrested after hectic police efforts and was later granted interim bail by court. His promise in the court to take the duped aspirants to Hajj in 2012 also turned out a lie.
The commission has appointed Tehsildar (North city), Mohammad Basher Rather as auctioning officer of the Gilkar’s property in picturesque Harwan, a plush green area on to east of Dal lake. The property includes a commercial building and a piece of land.
The auctioning officer said that the bid would start from Rs. 1.5 crore and the bidders would have to increase the bid by a minimum of Rs. 1,00,000.
"Intending buyers are asked to deposit a security amount of Rs. 5,00,000 by or before April 22 and the bids will be held on April 23," the officer said.
The fraud, first of its kind in muslim majority region, had created uproar in the valley owing to the religious sensitivity muslims attached to the pilgrimage. The aspirants not only felt cheated but humiliated for not being able to fullfil a religious obligation.
The agency owner has paid some 300 aspirants 49 per cent of their money on court directions and is yet to pay the rest amount.