POST TIME: 2 August, 2017 00:00 00 AM
imposition of 2,000 Riyal per person
Fate of 20,000 Hajj pilgrims uncertain

Fate of 20,000 Hajj 
pilgrims uncertain

Bangladesh has sent a note verbale to the Saudi Hajj ministry regarding the imposition of 2,000 Riyal on each of the pilgrims who performed Hajj in 2015 and 2016. The extra charge has jeopardised the fate of about 20,000 Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims this year.

In all, 54,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims, out of 127,198, have got e-visas to perform Hajj this year. On the other hand, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has cancelled 12 scheduled Hajj flights due to shortage of pilgrims.

Against this backdrop, a meeting will be held between the Saudi Hajj ministry secretary and Bangladesh’s consul general at the ministry in Jeddah. Bangladesh’s Hajj councillor will also attend the meeting to try and resolve the visa problem.

“Our consul general in Jeddah, on behalf of the ambassador, has sent a note verbal to the Saudi Arabian Hajj ministry regarding the imposition of 2,000 Riyal on each of the pilgrims who performed Hajj in the last two years,” Abdul Jalil, secretary of the religious affairs ministry, told The Independent yesterday (Tuesday).

He expressed astonishment over cancellation of scheduled Hajj flights, despite 54,000 pilgrims having got visas.

“About 27,000-28,000 pilgrims out of the 54,000 visa holders have already left Dhaka for Jeddah to perform Hajj. The remaining visa holders are still waiting to fly. Normally, the Biman authorities make their schedule on the basis of ticket sales,” the secretary said.

In that case, the secretary wondered about who have bought the tickets for the pilgrims, Hajj agencies or others.

About 88,000 Hajj pilgrims have submitted visa applications online, he added.

The Biman Bangladesh Airlines authorities yesterday cancelled four scheduled flights due to shortage of Hajj passengers.

“Four flights scheduled to take off for Saudi Arabia at 4.55am, 8.55am, 12:55pm and 11.45pm today have been cancelled. Besides, one flight scheduled for 3.25am on Wednesday has also been cancelled,” Biman general manager Shakil Meraj told this correspondent.

“The Saudi government has suddenly imposed 2,000 Riyal per person on those who have performed Hajj in the last two years. This has created a visa problem,” the secretary general of the Hajj Agencies’ Association of Bangladesh (HAAB), Shahadat Hossain Taslim, told this correspondent.

However, civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon said yesterday that it is uncertain whether several hundreds of pilgrims would be able to perform Hajj this year due to visa complications and house rent in Saudi Arabia.
The ministry will hold an emergency press briefing at the Secretariat today (Wednesday).