VHP launching helpline for Hindu pilgrims

via IANS published on December 21, 2009

Lucknow, Dec 21 (IANS) The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is to start a toll-free helpline service in India for Hindu pilgrims and tourists to help them in booking low-cost accomodation, hiring vehicles and medical services during pilgrimages.

The 24-hour helpline, which would be functional from January 2010, would be part of the VHP’s “social responsibility programmes”, the group’s Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand organising secretary Purshottam Narain Singh told IANS.

“We believe the forthcoming helpline would immensely help Hindu tourists and pilgrims, particularly those coming from abroad, who don’t know much about the visiting place and become an easy prey for touts who charge hefty amounts on the pretext of providing accommodation, hiring vehicles and other services,” he said.
According to officials, VHP’s international president Ashok Singhal will launch the helpline during the upcoming Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, in Uttarakhand’s holy city Haridwar.
“Most probably, Ashokji would launch the helpline Jan 14, the day the Kumbh Mela starts on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, considered an auspicious day on the Hindu calendar,” said Purhottam.
The helpline would provide services ranging from providing low-cost accommodation in guest houses, booking rooms in hotels, hiring vehicles, offering affordable medical and support services to tourists and pilgrims in cases of emergency.
The VHP has already roped in a number of hotels, guest houses, nursing homes, hospitals, doctors, blood banks and taxi operators from all parts of the country.
“Emergency and support services for tourists would be one of the major highlights of the helpline. In cases of emergency, one just needs to call up at the helpline and mention the present location. Swiftly acting on the call, our volunteers with a medical team will rush to the site and provide emergency and support services,” said Singh.
According to VHP officials, Pravin Togadia, the outfit’s general secretary, is personally keeping a track on the upcoming helpline service so that it could be launched without any delay.
“Last week, Pravinji convened a meeting at the Shri Muni Indu Inter College in Kanpur to know about the developments related to the helpline service. He called upon VHP volunteers, who had gathered from different states of the country, to take the helpline project on a priority basis so that it can be launched Jan 14,” said a VHP functionary based in Kanpur.

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