POST TIME: 18 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Religious affairs ministry contemplates appointing at least 2,000 workers to look after private Hajj pilgrims next year
New Hajj, Umrah law soon
Bill likely to be placed in upcoming parliament session

New Hajj, Umrah law soon

The religious affairs ministry is likely to place a new bill to manage Hajj and Umrah in Parliament in the next session. Besides, the ministry is contemplating appointing at least 2,000 workers to look after private Hajj pilgrims next year. State minister for religious affairs, Sheikh Md. Abdullah, said this while addressing at a daylong workshop on Hajj management 2019 at the city’s Officer’s Club yesterday (Thursday).

He said they are working to endorse the Hajj Act soon so that Hajj management is smoother than other years. “The Saudi authorities have expressed satisfaction over Bangladesh’s Hajj management last year. But they want better management than this year in future,” he said and urged the authorities concerned to work together to ensure it.

Abdullah stressed the need for cooperation of all concerned, including the civil aviation and tourism ministry, the home ministry and other agencies, for successful management of Hajj.

About the Hajj Agencies' Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), he said there were many allegations against it earlier, but the association is now doing well.

Although the government claimed managing a successful Hajj this year, religious affairs ministry officials and HAAB leaders have identified several faults and allegations.

They have suggested that the government should take measures immediately to arrange the Hajj smoothly next year.

The suggestions were given in a planning workshop to find out the course of action to ensure a smooth Hajj management in future.

In the workshop, HAAB president Shahadat Hossain Taslim said local Hajj agents had to face severe domineering of Saudi Arabian Airlines officials to get air tickets for their pilgrims.

“Saudi Airline officials are dictatorial about selling their tickets. They don't follow any rules of the government or authorities concerned to sell air tickets. As a result, the Hajj agents had to face problems and ticketing agencies had to charge extra for tickets,” he claimed.

While presenting the keynote paper, religious affairs ministry’s joint secretary (Hajj), ABM Amin Ullah Nuri, also admitted the charges made by the HAAB president against the air agency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The senior bureaucrat suggested that the government, as well as the ministry high-ups, should address the problem quickly so that they do not have to face such autocratic behavior in future.

In his speech, the HAAB president claimed that though there is an option to complain and take punitive measures against private Hajj agents, there is no option of taking action against the government authorities concerned for mismanagement in handling government arranged pilgrims.

“The provision should be changed. The government pilgrims should

also have the scope to complain about mismanagement and the officials concerned should be punished,” he added.

Taslim said though the private pilgrims have been paying Tk. 300 each for getting Hajj service from government Hajj volunteers, they do not get it.  Only government pilgrims get the benefit. Private pilgrims should also get the same facilities, he added. The HAAB leader also intended to take the responsibility of finding out the missing pilgrims. While replying to the questions, religious affairs secretary Anisur Rahman said they are planning to increase the number of Hajj volunteers in future. Once the number is increased, private pilgrims will also get the benefit.

He claimed that they are working to finalise the draft of the “Hajj Act” soon. Once the draft is finalised, it would be sent to the Cabinet and Parliament for approval in the next session.

While speaking at the workshop, state minister for religious affairs, Sheikh Md. Abdullah, said they are working to endorse the Hajj Act soon so that Hajj management can be ensured more smoothly.

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Religious Affairs Ministry, Nojibul Bashar Maijvandari, Mahmudus Samad Chowdhury and Ratna Ahmed, among others, were present at the programme. It was chaired by religious affairs secretary Anisur Rahman.