Srinagar: The Crime Branch of police on Saturday carried out searches at multiple locations across the city in connection with the alleged sale of air tickets on exorbitant rates by travel agents and various airlines operating in the Valley.
The sleuths of CB conducted searches at the offices of at least nine travel agents and the residence of a sales manager of a private airliner, local news agency KNT reported Saturday. The searches, the report said, were carried out on the basis of a complaint from different travel associations and trade bodies through Director Tourism, Kashmir regarding dry selling/offline selling of bulk tickets by airlines staff to the ticketing agents in advance in violation of the standing norms and procedure. The complaint further alleged that travel agents in league with airlines staff were creating artificial inflation of prices.
“During the investigation, the Crime Branch Kashmir had summoned representatives of various airlines viz, Vistara, Go Air, Indigo, Air India, Air Asia and Spice-jet U/S 160 CrPC along with relevant records,” the report said.
The report further said that the investigation has revealed that a large number of tickets have been purchased by some agents through various airlines in violation of the standing norms and procedure.
“Accordingly searches, as mandated under law, were conducted today across the city and important documents pertaining to the case investigation have been seized from various travel agents,” it added.
The action by Crime Branch comes at a time when airfares have skyrocketed making it difficult for people to take flights outside the Valley.
“At the onset of every winter, hike in air fares particularly on Srinagar - Jammu & Delhi sectors has become a routine. These days also the same thing is happening but even worse is continuous closure of highway for so many days that has added to the woes of the general public,” Khan Mehraj, a resident of Hyderpora said.
“Online, there are no flights available, whereas, bulk tickets purchased in advance by certain travel agents on less price are being sold at exorbitant rates,” he added.
Elaborating further, Mehraj said that a ticket for Srinagar to Delhi purchased by a travel agent before eight to nine months in advance for a meagre amount between Rs 2000 to Rs 3000 is now sold at Rs 9000 and above.
“It has become a business and there is nobody to check this illegal trade,” he said.
Similar views were echoed by Sameer Ahmad Dar, a resident of old city’s Nowhatta.
“Government should constitute a team to monitor this business so that a check on all travel agents selling tickets is done. It shall be mandatory for every travel agent to submit the list of tickets sold by him along with the transaction details,” Dar added.
An official wishing not to be named told Kashmir Observer that normally as per the practice in vogue; a travel agent shall earn not more than 20 - 30 percent of commission (travel agents commission) on the services he has provided to the customer.
“However, in this regard the tourism department has to fix rates for travel agents under the provisions of section 29 of Tourist trade act. Till date no fixation of rates has been done and this is the reason travel agents are at liberty to sell tickets at exorbitant rates,” he added.
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