The government wants to avoid any unavoidable situation over holy Hajj this year. The religious affairs ministry will be taking various steps, such as holding talks with private hajj agency owners regarding air tickets for pilgrims, accommodation in Saudi Arabia and deposition of mullem fee.
The hajj monitoring team under the ministry will hold talks with 598 private hajj agency owners so that Bangladeshi pilgrims can perform hajj without any hassle.
The hajj flight will begin from July 4 and continue till August 5.
A total of 127,198 pilgrims will perform hajj this year. Among them, 1,0,000 would go to Saudi Arabia under private management and 7,198 under government arrangement.
The Saudi Arabian immigration authorities will complete the immigration process of Bangladeshis wanting to perform hajj at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport instead of the Jeddah International Airport.
Joint secretary (hajj) of the religious affairs ministry, ABM Amin Ullah Nuri, said this while talking to The Independent yesterday (Monday).
“We want to learn from the private hajj agency owners arrangements being made. We want to ensure whether the agency owners have collected air tickets for the pilgrims, deposited the muallem fees and rented houses in Saudi Arabia,” Nuri said in reply to a query.
A total of 218 agency owners have been called for the first phase, which begins today (Tuesday). The exercise will continue till May 30, he said.
The discussions will take place in the central library conference room of the Islamic Foundation at the National Baitul Mukarram Mosque.
“We want to monitor everything prior to getting visas, so that pilgrims are able to perform hajj smoothly. We will learn about the problems through this discussion,” the joint secretary said.
Normally, many pilgrims face fraudulences by some dishonest agency owners every year. Such an initiative will help to stop such illegal practices, he added.
“The agency owners have to collect air tickets before submitting passports to get visa for their pilgrims. This will help to fix the number of hajj flights,” Nuri said.
At least 25 flights were cancelled last year due to lack of hajj passengers.
According to Nuri, Bangladeshi pilgrims can now complete the immigration procedure at Dhaka airport before heading for Saudi Arabia. “This facility will be only for passengers for dedicated hajj flights. The passengers who will fly to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj by regular flights won’t get the immigration facility in Dhaka,” the joint secretary said in reply to a query.
Earlier, pilgrims were required to wait in the aircraft after landing in Saudi Arabia to complete the immigration procedure — sometimes for up to nine hours.
According to sources, the national flag carrier will operate as many as 157 hajj flights and another 32 scheduled flights till August 5. Biman Bangladesh Airlines is likely to carry 63,599 pilgrims of the total 1,27,198.
In addition to 126 flights on the Dhaka-Jeddah route, Biman will operate 10 flights on the Dhaka-Medina route, 10 on the Chittagong-Jeddah route, seven on the Chittagong-Medina route and three flights on the Sylhet-Jeddah route.
Biman’s return hajj flights will start on August 17 and continue till September 14.
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