The Pakistan Ministry of Religious Affairs has urged devotees to register for Hajj this year, adding that the related costs will go further up in the years ahead due to the global economic turmoil, and the demolition of residential hotels near Saudi Arabia’s Haram Shareef area.
A notification – signed by the ministry’s Deputy Secretary Abul Kashem Muhammad Shahin – made the call on Sunday, adding that the demolition of hotels in that particular area has made it difficult to rent accommodation for pilgrims, leading to a cost hike that will continue to rise.
Under the circumstances, the Hajj package announced this year should be considered featuring the lowest possible costs, it read, adding that the Hajj package prices will rise in the coming years as it will take another two to three years to rebuild the demolished houses/hotels.
So, the ministry is urging the devotees to register for this year’s Hajj package.
The government has extended the Hajj registration period seven times so far due to the lack of response from devotees. The deadline for registration under government and private management was recently extended till April 5.
Until Sunday, more than 8,000 devotees were needed to register to fill the quota.
On March 22, the government reduced the cost of Hajj packages under both public and private management by Tk 11,725, as Saudi Arabia has reduced a service charge for devotees worldwide.
Pilgrims planning to perform Hajj under government management will now have to pay Tk 6,71,290 each, and those under private management will have to pay Tk 6,60,893 each. The Hajj will be performed on June 27, subject to the moon sighting.
As per an agreement with Saudi Arabia, as many as 1,27,198 pilgrims can go from Bangladesh to perform Hajj. Of them, 15,000 people can perform Hajj under government management and 1,12,198 people under private management.
HC issues rule against Hajj package cost
A High Court division bench has issued a rule asking why the Hajj package announced by the government this year should not be declared to be against the public interest.
The bench of justices KM Kamrul Kader and Mohammad Ali issued the rule on Sunday, reports BSS.
The court also sought to know why other airlines besides Biman Bangladesh and Saudi Airlines would not be included in the list of airlines for booking tickets for Hajj, keeping the affordability of the pilgrims in mind.
The religious affairs secretary, civil aviation and tourism secretary, director general of the Islamic Foundation, and Hajj Association of Bangladesh (HAB) have been asked to respond to the rule within the next four weeks.
On March 6, a legal notice was sent to the government to review the #Hajj package price and set it at Tk 4 lakh by Supreme Court lawyer and chief coordinator of Al-Quran Study Center, Advocate Ashraf Uz Zaman.
The notice, which stated that legal action will be taken against the authorities concerned if they do not take necessary steps within a week, was also sent to the religious affairs ministry.
Advocate Ashraf Uz-Zaman, petitioner of the writ, told BSS that they want the concerned party to amend, change and reschedule the Hajj Package 2023, confining it within Tk 4 lakh.
“We have pointed out other issues like including other airlines besides Biman Bangladesh or Saudi Airlines, to ease out the burden of the expenses for the pilgrims,” he added.
The government had earlier fixed the cost of Hajj in the current year at Tk 6.83 lakh. On the other hand, the minimum cost for Hajj pilgrims under private management (without qurbani) was set at Tk 6.72 lakh.
With the current packages, a pilgrim will have to spend around 1.5 lakh taka extra this year, compared to the previous year’s budget.