As many as 25 doctors associated with the Malad Media Association (MMA), who were on a tour of China, are reportedly stuck at a hotel in Shenzhen as the tour operator failed to make the payments to the Chinese travel agency. As per a report by Indian Express, the Chinese tour operators have refused to organise their return to India until their entire tour fee is paid. Doctors who are stuck at the hotel have claimed that they were asked to vacate their rooms on Sunday and have been told to remain in the lobby area since then. They said they are not allowed to leave the hotel premises until the media association manages to transfer the entire amount due for the trip.
As the Indian Embassy in the country was shut on Saturday and Sunday, the MMA had reached out to the External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj seeking their safe return to India. MMA, every year, arranges foreign trips for its doctors and this year, the 7-day trip was arranged to Macau, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Speaking to the Indian Express ,Sanjay Mehra, one of the doctors who is currently stuck there with his family said, “In January we paid Rs 92,500 per person to Oppex Holidays, which was contracted by the association’s management.”
The report further stated that these doctors paid an additional fee to Oppex Holidays to procure their visas too. Three batches of doctors were supposed to visit the country. When the first batch of 70 doctors arrived, the travel agency made 30 per cent of the payment to the Chinese tour agency Freedom Travel, informed MMA.
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Later on May 16, the second group of 25 doctors including their families left for Hong Kong. On May 18, the group was informed that Oppex Holidays had not made payment to Freedom Travels and a day later their entire itinerary including food and accommodation was cancelled by the Chinese tour agency.
Speaking on the issue, Oppex Holidays’ owner Vinayak Zarekar said, “I am trying to process it. My priority is to ensure they are safe. I cannot comment further.” However, Zarekar refused to comment over the reason for delay in payment to the Chinese agency.
As per the doctors, Oppex Holidays had earlier assured that they will make the payments, but now had stopped answering calls. The report also stated that the Chinese agency has demanded Rs 20 lakh in order to permit the doctor’s delegation to leave. The MMA has lodged a complaint against the Indian travelling agency with the Dahisar police under Sector 420 of the Indian Penal Court.