The fate of some 1 lakh 20 thousand and 868 pilgrims under private management is facing uncertainty over performing of Hajj in Saudi Arabia this year due to negligence and mismanagement by a section of officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, insiders claimed.
Private hajj agency owners alleged that many of the pilgrims have not yet got visa, which caused disruption in flights amid lower passenger turnout.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry has announced the upcoming hajj flight schedule. The hajj flight will start from July 24.
According to the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), most of the local agencies could not yet ensure residence for pilgrims in Makkah and Madina. Muazzem’s (representatives) of different hajj agents could not go to
Saudi Arabia as the Religious Ministry has not paid Moallem fee, including house rent. Now every agency has to pay additional Tk 3,607 against per pilgrim through Saudi IBAN due to the negligence of the ministry.
Sources said, each hajj pilgrim has deposited Tk 30,752 to the ministry during their pre-registration. Of them, Tk 20,351 was supposed to send to Saudi Arab for Muallem fee through concern agencies. But the ministry delayed to send the money. So every Hajj agency will have to pay additional Tk 3,672 for each Hajj pilgrim’s Muallem fee due to the higher exchange rate of Saudi Riyal. The private agencies now have to pay the sum through IBAN. The IBAN charges around Tk 3 more against each real.
The anomalies in this situation regarding thousands Hajj pilgrims have come to light just before the Hajj flights, which is scheduled to begin on July 24.
Md. Abdul Jalil, Secretary of Religious Affairs Ministry, told The New Nation yesterday that they have already started to pay the Muallem fee to all private hajj agencies.
‘We will take stern action against the concerned officials if they are involved in forgery of this or in any kind of fraud,” he warned.
HAAB Secretary General Sahadat Hossain Taslim told The New Nation that pilgrims and hajj agencies are facing immense difficulties for the “irresponsible and whimsical” behaviour of some officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. “They have not resolved the problems related to Mahram, Moazzem and pilgrim replacement issues and didn’t finalise the hajj quotas yet, which is delaying visa process a lot,” he said.
He also said the hajj agencies could not finalise their list of pilgrims as they didn’t know the actual number of pilgrims yet.
“Among the over one lakh pilgrims, only few agencies have received visa till now. So how could the agency owners would treacle the situation, I don’t know? He added.
Hajj agencies booked air tickets for the pilgrims who got visas, he said, adding that many of the hajj aspirants have not got visas yet, which results in vacant seats on Biman flights. He said the government has not resolved the problems related to Mahram (close relative of a pilgrim), which forced many to miss hajj flights.
Around 127,798 Bangladeshi people will perform hajj this year, of which 5,800 will go under the government management, while rest of 121,998 will go under private arrangement.
According to HAAB, around 120,000 people got pre-registered for hajj under private management, while the government couldn’t fill up its 4,800 quotas among 5,800 in time.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia allotted Bangladesh with additional 11,000 quotas, but the government officials are not interested to fill up the additional quotas considering it to be extra hassle.
State carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines authorities instructed that, from now on, all the hajj agencies will have to confirm the visas and plane tickets 72 hours before the day of flight.