Home Bangladesh Hajj of 28,000pilgrims are uncertain
Bangladesh - April 22, 2024

Hajj of 28,000pilgrims are uncertain

Rabiul Haque: Hajj flights start one month before Hajj every year. Prior to that, the Ministry of Religion and the airlines completed the work related to visas and flight schedules of the pilgrims. However, the visa process has not yet started. The flight schedule has not been announced as the list of final Hajj pilgrims has not been received.
Meanwhile, several complications including uncertainty have arisen due to 28,000 pilgrims going to Muzdalifah. In short, as the time of Hajj approaches this year, the crisis is intensifying. The Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) and the Ministry of Religion are blaming each other for this.
Those concerned say that according to the Hajj package of 2024 – Hajj flights are supposed to start from May 9. But this year’s Hajj management is facing challenges due to not being able to rent a house in Saudi Arabia, the uncertainty of 28,000 pilgrims going to Muzdalifah, and the lack of visas for agency representatives to rent houses for pilgrims. There is practically no initiative to overcome these crises.
HAAB President M Shahadat Hossain Taslim has blamed the Ministry of Religion for facing various challenges in this year’s Hajj. Recently in an event in the capital, he said that only 4,283 Hajj pilgrims can be rented under government management, but the Ministry is not providing any assistance to rent the houses of about 78,895 Haj pilgrims under private management.
On the other hand, the Saudi Embassy does not grant visas to agency representatives, monajjems (who act on behalf of the owner of a registered Hajj agency during the Holy Hajj) for renting a house. As a result, they are unable to go to Saudi Arabia to rent houses for pilgrims. The ministry is not helping in this place either. The biggest crisis has arisen with the stay of about 28 thousand pilgrims in Muzdalifah.
Although the Ministry of Religion says that the Hajj agency’s greed for high profits has created complications with the pilgrims spending the night in Muzdalifah. Agencies have contracted with blacklisted companies to reduce Muzdalifa’s costs. As a result, a crisis has arisen regarding the location of these 28,000 pilgrims in Muzdalifah. Hub was informed about this crisis earlier but they did not heed. Now coming to the end, they are blaming the Ministry of Religion.
28,000 pilgrims are uncertain about staying in Muzdalifah
Muzdalifah consists of an important part of Hajj, which is Wajib. It is to be observed by pilgrims. However, whether 28,000 pilgrims can go to Muzdalifah or not, it is not yet certain. Finally, if they cannot go to Muzdalifah, they can only go to Mina and Arafat. Under these conditions, there is uncertainty about whether these pilgrims will go to Hajj at all, or whether they will get a visa or not.
The Ministry of Religion is blaming the highly profitable agencies for this crisis. As the reason for this, the Ministry says that about 28 thousand pilgrims listed by Rifat Company will go to Muzdalifah. But the Rifat company last year kept more than 3,000 pilgrims far away from the main site. As a result, they had to perform Hajj with great difficulty. Despite being prohibited from contracting any pilgrims under these companies, some agencies did so. That number is about 28 thousand. After knowing the matter, agency owners and organization hubs were informed. But they didn’t care. Now coming to the end, the pilgrims under Rifat company are not getting a place in Muzdalifah.
In this regard, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Religion Motiul Islam told that the monajjem sent by the agencies cannot speak Arabic and are not skilled in IT and other subjects. As a result,they make a lot of mistakes while making house rent and Muzdalifah contracts. The owner and organization of the agency have already been informed – do not enter into any agreement with Rifat. However, Rifat created this crisis by making an agreement with the company in the greed of high profits. Now the opposite is blaming us. Efforts are being made to solve this problem through the Hajj mission in Saudi Arabia, I hope it will be solved soon.
M Shahadat Hossain Taslim, President of the Hub, said that the whereabouts of about 28,000 pilgrims in Muzdalifah is uncertain. However, I do not see any initiative of Hajj Mission and Ministry in this regard. Hub wants to see, Hajj Mission solves problems of Hajj pilgrims. He thinks that it is more important to advance Hajj activities than to punish those agencies who have contracted with Rifat.
80 pc of pilgrims have not yet applied for visas
While announcing the Hajj package 2024 in November last year, State Minister for Religion Faridul Haque Khan said that visa issuance for performing the holy Hajj will start from March 1 this year and visa applications can be made on April 29.
But only 16,000 have applied for visas in one and a half months. 80 percent of pilgrims have not yet applied for visas.
Mainly because of not being able to rent a house in Saudi Arabia, not being able to confirm the location in Mina, Muzdalifah, visa application is not possible. Especially since there are complications with staying in Muzdalifah, extreme uncertainty has arisen as to when the 28,000 visa applications will start.
According to the officials of the Ministry of Religion and Hub, Hajj pilgrims have to apply for a visa by fulfilling various conditions given by Saudi Arabia, including house rent in Makkah-Madinah, Muallem (who is responsible for arranging everything including accommodation, food, and transportation of the pilgrims). Failure to fulfill any one of these conditions will not grant the Hajj visa. Officially, visa applications will start very soon, but private Hajj agencies will not be able to apply for visas until the house rent issue is resolved.
When asked to know, Motiul Islam, Additional Secretary of the Hajj Division of the Ministry of Religion told that many agencies have not yet resolved issues such as house rent, Moallem and others before applying for a visa. However, those who will go to government management, there is no complication in visa application. The rest of the visa applications will start very soon. For this, the slot has been taken from the Saudi Embassy.
The flight schedule has not been announced
According to the package, Hajj flights are scheduled to start from May 9. But the airlines have not yet announced the Hajj package. However, three airlines announced the Hajj flight schedule one month before last year. They are not able to announce the flight schedule due to the lack of visa-certified pilgrims.
Last year, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and Saudi’s private airline Flynas announced a total of 335 Hajj flight schedules to carry 196,695 pilgrims. As per the agreement, Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry half of the total Hajj passengers and the remaining half will be carried by Saudia and Flynns Air.
This year, the number of Hajj applicants has come down to 83,000. The Ministry of Religion said that the number of flights may decrease this year. Last year, 10 percent of the total flights to Madinah and return from Makkah, the condition has been removed this year. Due to this, the number of flight cancellations will decrease this year, said Additional Secretary Motiul Islam.
Agencies are not sending house rents
Hajj agencies that rent houses in Makkah and Madinah pay the rent through International Bank Account Number (IBAN). There are two parts to the Hajj expenses. One in Saudi Arabia, the other in Bangladesh. But in the Saudi part, about two thousand crore rupees of private Hajj expenses have been deposited under the Ministry of Religion, but only 80 Hajj agencies have sent the expenses to IBAN. Still 180 Hajj agencies could not send Hajj money to IBAN. As a result, it is not possible to rent a house in Makkah-Madinah.
Hub reported that the counselor of Makkah Bangladesh Hajj Mission, Zahirul Islam, was urged to resolve the matter but no solution was found.
Those concerned said that earlier the agencies could pay the house rent directly to the Saudi government or the owners, but this year they have to pay the money through the Hajj Mission and IBAN of the respective country. As a result, a new crisis has arisen.
Main crisis house rent
A large part of the main cost of Hajj goes towards renting a house in Makkah-Madinah, Saudi Arabia. Private Hajj agencies come and rent houses at the end. Because at this time some houses are available for rent for less money. They have eyes on those houses. For this reason, agencies rent houses till the last day. And the houses are far away from Harem Sharif. About which pilgrims complain every year. Still, the agencies are doing this every year.
On the other hand, the representative of the agency (Monajjem) has to go to Saudi Arabia to rent houses for Hajj pilgrims. That is why the monks are given multiple visit visa. But recently the agencies are not able to send Monajjem for house rent as they did not get the visit visa even after submitting the necessary documents including passport.
The Hub President said that despite knowing the matter, the Ministry of Religion has not yet taken any initiative. It will not be possible to complete the house rent unless they go to Saudi Arabia. House can’t be rented without agency representative and Hajj visa cannot be issued if house is not rented.
Hub complains that government officials never inquire about private Haj pilgrims. They do not perform any duty in Mina, Muzdalifah. Only 40 people are needed to serve the government’s 4-5 thousand pilgrims. But in the name of helping pilgrims, the country’s money is wasted by taking a large number of manpower of the administrative team from the country. While most Hajj pilgrims go through Hajj agencies, they need more helpers.
In this context, the president of the hub said that the current Hajj management is facing challenges. Although Hajj is very near, nothing has been done yet. The Ministry of Religion seems to be sleeping awake. Thus due to their negligence we are going to lose again the order of Hajj, which is very sad. The Ministry of Religion was warned in advance about these complications of Hajj this year. But they failed to realize it. I will tell them to wake up. If you do not understand the challenges of the upcoming Hajj, you will be in a lot of trouble. There is sadness on the forehead.
In this regard, Additional Secretary Motiul Islam said, after the agencies informed us, we spoke to the Saudi Embassy. Efforts are being made to resolve matters quickly.

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