Around 32 pilgrims from Hyderabad are stranded in Iraq's Najaf city after the travel agency which organised the trip shut down, following a police complaint against it.
According to media reports, the people left for the pilgrimage last month through KSS travel agency, which had its office located at Dabeerpura in Old City.
However, as the local police had received complaints of cheating, it registered a case and launched an investigation, following which the travel agency downed its shutters.
"They are staying in a hotel close to the shrine of Imam Ali. The coordinator left them after he came to know about the police case in Hyderabad. Now the hoteliers are not allowing them to leave the hotel and snatched away their passports," Ali Jaffery, a Shia leader, told DC.
"The tour operator didn't pay bills of the hotel, where they were putting up near the Imam Ali shrine. So, hotel staff detained the pilgrims and their visas expired. They don't have return tickets too. One of my relatives is also stuck. They have contacted us through WhatsApp messages. KSS Travels is involved in a multi-crore scam," Jaffery told ToI.
Madam @SushmaSwaraj, i humbly request you to Kindly Rescue the Indian Pilgrims from Najaf iraq.â€” Syed Ali Jaffry Â® (@syedalijaffry) June 2, 2018
Below are the whtsapp contact of pilgrim +919391149650.@EI_Baghdad Please help them.#NoFood #NoReturnTicket#IraqVisaExpired@amjedmbt @CPHydCity @TelanganaDGP @Asifyarrkhan @ani https://t.co/DChgyxZs0E
The pilgrims are now seeking help from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and the Embassy of India in Baghdad, to return home to Hyderabad.
This incident came to light just a day after the Visakhapatnam police in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, rescued 22 workers after they were duped by a job agency and stranded in Abu Dhabi.
The victims, most of whom hailed from Gajuwaka, reached out to the police on Twitter, following which they received immediate help.
The victims alleged that they were treated inhumanely, with 12 of them confined to a small room. They also posted a video on the conditions that they were living in.
Speaking to reporters, City Police Commissioner T Yoganand urged unemployed youth not to fall prey to such agents and ensure that they make proper enquiries before taking up any job offer.