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Hitting out at electronic media for "misreporting searches and inspection” at Al-Khuddam office in Srinagar recently as raids conducted by NIA, J&K Association of Hajj and Umrah Companies (JKAHUC) on Saturday said the visit of Enforcement Directorate (ED) to the office of Al-Khuddam was to “only check records at the firms and had no connection with terror funding" as reported by certain sections of the media.   

Addressing a press conference here, Abdul Rashid Mir, chairman, JKAHUC said New-Delhi and Mumbai based news channels “sensationalized” the ED visit which created a sense of insecurity among people across the state intending to perform Hajj and Umrah.  

“They (ED) just checked records at the office and that is what the so called searches were about. The searches have created panic among those intending to perform Hajj and Umrah through such companies. They have been calling us regularly but we assured them that such searches will not deter our services,” Mir said.

Mir said member companies of JKAHUC have been providing Hajj and Umrah services for last several years to people across the state “and all our bank accounts are like an open book,” Mir said.

A statement issued by JKAHUC said “inspection” conducted by ED to verify records of export company Feroz Son Exports was “deliberately linked with iconic Al-Khuddam Hajj & Umrah Services to malign Hajj Pilgrimage and to create chaos in the minds of aspiring Pilgrims”.

“The ED was doing its bona-fide duty of verifying records of Feroz Son Exports, the export company of which the prominent businessman Sheikh Feroz Ahmad is a director. Under Section 37 of FEMA, the ED has every right to undertake such procedures and we do not question that. But what remained sinister was how a section of national media sensationalized the news and linked it with terror and terror funding to gain TRPs,” the statement said.

The association said even though Sheikh Feroz Ahmad is director in both, Al-Khuddam Hajj & Umrah Services and Feroz Son Exports, the two companies are separate and have nothing to do with the each other.

“Alkhuddam deals with Hajj & Umrah Services, whereas Feroz Son Exports, which deals with handicraft exports is a separate company with separate office and a completely separate entity. Alkhuddam Haj & Umrah Services’ name was deliberately mentioned by a section of national media out of sinister design,” the JKAHUC spokesman said adding “Otherwise inspection by ED is a usual exercise which exporters have to undergo from time to time, across the country.”