Mumbai: Australia embassy clean bowls World Cup contest winner

Despite winning an all-paid-for trip to witness the ICC World Cup final at Melbourne on March 29, Jignesh Sanghrajka will watch the match from home. The Marine Lines resident and his travel partner brother won the tickets at an online contest but their visa applications were rejected citing insufficient funds as the reason

Today, Jignesh Sanghrajka feels like somebody who won a jackpot, but misplaced the lottery ticket. Despite winning an all-paid-for trip to watch the ICC World Cup final in Melbourne on March 29, the 28-year-old might now be forced to watch the grand final from his couch at Mumbai.

Jignesh Sanghrajka
Out of the world (cup): Jignesh Sanghrajka (right) was all set to visit his sister in Adelaide and watch the ICC World Cup final at Melbourne with his brother Mehul Sanghrajka (left). Pic / Atul Kamble

Jignesh and his older brother Mehul’s visas were rejected by the Australian embassy on ‘financial grounds’ as per a communication to them which sunday mid-day has a copy of. The winner was Jignesh, who was to take Mehul along with him on the trip.

Jignesh Sanghrajka (left) with his elder brother Mehul at thier residence in Princess Street. pic/atul kamble
Jignesh Sanghrajka (left) with his elder brother Mehul at thier residence in Princess Street. Pic/Atul Kamble

Forty-one-year-old Mehul is an investment consultant and insurance agent living in Kandivli, while Jignesh lives at Princess Street (Marine Lines). Jignesh, who recently joined a start-up company, was the winner of the Emirates Facebook competition which took place last month.

The contest was open to all those above 18. All they had to do was answer a question on the airline’s official Facebook page. The competition closed on February 16, Dubai time. Jignesh had to predict the winner of the February 15 match between India and Pakistan. Jignesh predicted an India win, which is what happened at the Adelaide Oval.

The winner was entitled to two economy-class return tickets to Melbourne, match tickets for the World Cup final, three nights’ hotel accommodation on a twin-sharing basis at a five star hotel. The rough estimate of the package would cost around R3 to 4 lakh per person.

Jignesh would have travelled outside Mumbai for the first time to watch a cricket match. “I was really excited when I won this contest. It is a dream for any cricket fan to travel to watch the World Cup final. Melbourne Cricket Ground (the venue for the final) is such a historic ground. I was looking forward to visit the MCG museum. But I am shattered now. After coming so close to realising my dream, I have missed out due to visa issues,” a dejected Jignesh said.

“I am crazy about cricket and football. I follow every match on TV and whenever there are cricket matches in Mumbai, I catch them live at the stadium,” he added.

On February 24, Jignesh was informed on his Facebook page that he had won the prize. “I first thought I may have won some merchandise because I often participate in online contests. So, I sent whatever details they had asked for,” said Jignesh. A couple of days later, Jignesh received an email from the public relations firm of Emirates confirming him as the winner of the contest. “I was thrilled.

I experienced my life’s biggest joy. I immediately informed my family and friends. I could nominate another person to travel with me, so I decided to take along my brother. Once we received the tickets (EK 501 Mumbai-Dubai and EK 406 Dubai-Melbourne) and hotel booking confirmation, we applied for Australian visas (on March 13),” explained Jignesh.

Jignesh requested the airlines to book their return tickets from Adelaide instead of Melbourne as they wanted to visit their sister for a couple of days. “Our return journey was slated to be on April 2 from Adelaide,” he said.

Along with all the relevant documents for visa process, Jignesh also got a supporting letter from the International Cricket Council (ICC). So far so good. Then came the shock. On March 18, Jignesh and Mehul received a letter from R Choudhry (Visa Officer, Department of Immigration and Border Protection) which stated: “Regarding your financial circumstances, I note that your income as per the income tax documents is not significantly high and therefore, I am not satisfied if such an income/occupation would constitute an incentive for you to return. Considering this, I am not satisfied that a genuine visit is intended.”

Mehul was shocked by the Australian consulate’s reply. “I have been paying nearly R50,000 as income tax since the last few years. We attached our bank statements and showed a minimum of R1 lakh in our savings account while applying for the visas. I also attached a valuation report of our two houses in Mumbai. We would also be carrying 1000 Australian dollars despite this being a fully-paid trip.”

“We also produced a letter by my sister who is staying in Adelaide for many years now. It is really hard to believe that despite all this, the Australian consulate does not believe we are genuine travellers,” said a livid Mehul.

A spokesperson from the Australian High Commission in a statement on Sunday said: "We're looking into it and will contact the applicants to see what can be done."

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