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18 August, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 August, 2015 01:34:38 AM
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Hajj uncertain for 21,000 pilgrims

419 fail to fly for KSA to perform hajj

Performing hajj has become uncertain for around 21,000 pilgrims  as they are yet to get e-visas. At least 419 pilgrims under government arrangement were unable to go to Saudi Arabia yesterday morning to perform hajj after failing to obtain e-visas. Around 21,000 hajj pilgrims are yet to get e-visas, leaving them uncertain whether they will be able to go to Saudi Arabia or not. The government stands to lose Tk. 5 crore if the visas are not issued on time. As a result, passengers might end up paying double airfare for missing the scheduled flight, Religious Ministry sources said. The Saudi authorities introduced e-visa for the first time this year, which created problems for hajj pilgrims and many Bangladeshi hajj passengers are suffering due to e-visa complexities. A total of 419 hajj passengers were scheduled to leave Dhaka for Jeddah by Beman Bangladesh flight, BG-3013, at 9:15am yesterday, but they were unable to do so because they didn’t get their
e-visas.
Meanwhile, officials of the Ashkona Hajj office claimed that they didn’t get their visas due to server problems in the Saudi embassy. “Photos of passengers were not getting uploaded on the server. A new server has been installed at the Saudi embassy. So it created problems, leading to a delay in the issuance of visas. Our senior officials are discussing the matter with Saudi embassy officials,” Assistant Hajj Officer, Abdul Malek, told The Independent.
In response to a query regarding the 419 hajj pilgrims, who missed their flight, he said a new flight schedule will be
 given to them. He hoped that these passengers will be able to fly to Saudi Arabia soon.
“I received the necessary documents on Sunday. My scheduled flight was at 9:15 today. But the official concerned informed me three hours before my flight that my visa is yet to be issued,” said Mohammad Mostafa, one of those who missed the flight. He doesn’t know yet when his visa will be issued.
Many pilgrims, especially husbands and wives or their relatives have to fly separately due to the delay in getting visas. The Religious Ministry has sent a letter to the Saudi embassy on Sunday for issuing visas promptly so that Bangladeshi pilgrims could fly in time. “The Saudi embassy is not cooperating with us. They returned many passports without issuing visas. Among them are many government officials,” Chowdhury Mohammad Babul Hasan told reporters.
The Religious Secretary in his letter to the Saudi embassy said that flight schedules have been confirmed for hajj passengers under government arrangements, but half of them are yet get visas. He sought the cooperation of the Saudi embassy for issuing visas quickly. Otherwise, the entire flight schedule would collapse due to the delay. Passengers, who have made hajj arrangements through private agencies, are also facing the same problem. The first Biman Bangladesh hajj flight left Dhaka for Jeddah on Sunday morning with over 400 devotees. Civil Aviation Minister, Rashed Khan Menon and Religious Affairs Minister, Motiur Rahman, were present at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport for the first flight. A total of six hajj flights have left Dhaka till today. In all, 101,758 pilgrims are expected to perform hajj this year. Of them, 2,600 will go under government arrangement, while the remaining will make their own arrangements through different hajj agencies. Biman Bangladesh will carry 51,000 pilgrims. The pilgrims have to pay $1,515 including VAT for economy class and $2,500 for business class tickets.
Allegations of fake registration
Uncertainty looms over the journey of 20,000 hajj pilgrims due to fake registration in collusion with the Secretary, the Joint Secretary of Religious Ministry and some dishonest owners of agencies, alleged Hajj Jattri Kalyan Sanstha on Sunday in a press briefing in Chittagong.  
At the briefing held at the Chittagong Press Club allegation were levelled against H M Mujibul Haque Sukkur, Chairman of the organisation. “On December 10, 2014, the government declared that in 2015 a total of 10,000 pilgrims will be availing of government arrangements and another 91,758 pilgrims with private arrangement would be able to go Saudi Arabia to perform hajj,” said Sukkur. “On February 19, 2015 the Ministry of Religion informed that from February 21 onwards, registration for hajj for those going through private arrangement will start. But, February 20 was Friday and February 21 was a holiday due to the International Mother Language Day and all institutions were shut,” But on February 22, it was learnt while going through the registration process, all 91,758 seats have been filled up,” alleged Sukkur.
He also alleged that taking advantage of the holidays from February 19-21, Md Babul Hasan, Secretary; Hasan Jahangir Alam, Joint Secretary of Religious Ministry and some dishonest owners of agencies made registrations under fake names. “As a result, over 20,000 hajj pilgrims going through 350 private agencies were deprived from registration,” alleged Sukkur. He also said that they found many fake names on the registration list. In some cases, one name was registered twice. He demanded that the fake names be deleted immediately so that the deprived pilgrims can get a chance to perform hajj.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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