LAHORE - PIA has increased Rs8,000 to its Umrah fare second time in week, now reaching at around Rs83,000, a travel agent said on Sunday.

He said that fare of Lahore-Jedah Umrah flight was started with Rs62,000 from December 01, 2014 and it was revised on December 15 and raised to Rs72,000. “Now on Sunday it has further been increased to Rs83,000,” he added.

Ijaz, a resident of Lawrence Road who is intended to perform the holy ritual, said that he was planning to visit Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah but had to postpone that after the increase in fare.

A PIA senior officer seeking anonymity also said that there was no justification for increasing fare. “The present management of PIA is also getting support from Pakistan government and is adding new planes in its fleet. But at the same time, despite visible decrease in fuel prices, the airline is increasing its fare,” he added.

“Naturally, other airlines follow the fare policy of any national airline so they will also increase the Umrah fare following PIA raise,” he further said.

A good number of pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia every year and it is routine of the national flag carrier that every year fare is increased without any good reason.

3,000 Umra aspirants conned out of Rs270m

Staff Reporter from Daksa adds: A protest demonstration continued on Sunday against a Haj and Umra tour operator who has disappeared after receiving over 3,000 passports and plundering more than Rs270 million from the local people, offering them lucrative packages.

A number of affected people protested in Daska city for the second day against the agency owner. The protesters including women chanted slogans and urged the Federal Investigation Agency to ensure early arrest of Muhammad Ikram Mughal.

They said that the accused had been running a travel agency namely Nimra Travels for the last several years, offering the lucrative packages of Umra and Haj. In Daska, several women and other people were of the view that they found the travel agency locked when they reached there for collecting their air tickets on the scheduled dates given them for going to Saudi Arabia. The affected people told the local police that the accused had fled away from the scene with more than 3,000 passports after extorting Rs270 million from the local people. The affectees were of the view that they had learnt that the accused had fled away abroad. The dozens of affected people also staged a sit-in in front of the travel agency lying closed there for the last several days. They urged the FIA to ensure early arrest of the accused for providing them with justice.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami Sialkot Secretary General District Mohsin Ikram Bhatti expressed grave concern over this fraud and urged the FIA to take stern legal action against the accused.

COLD, DENSE FOG: The Sialkot region remained in the grip of severe cold and dense fog forcing the people to stay inside. Fog blanketed all the urban and rural parts in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur, especially the far-off bordering areas along the Sialkot Working Boundary. As per the local officials of Sialkot MET office, the weather condition will persist for the next couple of days in Sialkot region.

SHORTAGE: The region was faced with the shortage of fodder, as the severe cold, dense fog and mist had badly affected the fodder crops in rural parts of Sialkot district.

Farmers have been suffering great difficulties in arranging the fodder for their cattle. The local growers revealed that the persisting severe cold, dense foggy and misty weather had badly affected the fodder crops in the bordering villages here.