Hajj for 2,000 still uncertain
The pilgrimage of over 2,000 Bangladeshis still remains uncertain as their hajj agencies are yet to apply for visas, Hajj camp sources said yesterday.
“So far 1, 24,424 intended hajis have got their visas. There are around 2,000 pilgrims who are yet to complete their visa procedures due to irresponsibility of their respective hajj agents,” Saiful Islam, director, Hajj Camp told The Daily Star last night.
Saiful said they have asked the respective hajj tour operators to submit visas of the remaining 2000 pilgrims today.
Saiful said due to the religious ministry's request, the Saudi government has extended the deadline for submitting visas by one more day.
The original deadline for submitting visas was August 17. The Saudi government at first extended the deadline by two days till August 19 following the religious affairs ministry's request.
Saiful Islam last night informed this correspondent that following the ministry's latest request, Saudi government has agreed to extend the August 19 deadline by another day to August 20.
He, however, couldn't confirm whether the visa processing for the pilgrims could be completed in a day.
Asked, he said the Hajj Office has all the records which show the agencies' negligence and delay in completing visa applications of pilgrims.
“Due to strategic reasons, for now we are not taking harsh action against the responsible hajj agencies that caused sufferings of the pilgrims who are honourable guests of Allah. But you can be sure that no one who showed negligence and irresponsibility in sending pilgrims will be spared this time. Each of them will have to face music,” added the director.
Saiful added that the Hajj camp office is always in contact with the respective hajj agencies.
“We have given them the final warning to submit visa applications of the rest of the pilgrims by tomorrow [today] without fail.”
Talking to this correspondent, Religious Affairs Secretary Abdul Jalil yesterday hoped all the intending pilgrims will be able to reach Saudi Arabia by the stipulated time of August 28.
He informed that as of 9:00am yesterday, the Saudi government had so far approved e-Visa applications for 1.26 lakh intending Bangladeshi pilgrims.
He said the remaining visa applications will also be approved within the given time. The Saudi embassy will provide the passports by Monday.
As of 8:00am yesterday, a total of 81,063 pilgrims reached Saudi Arabia. Biman Bangladesh and Saudi Airlines will have to send the rest 46,135 pilgrims by August 28.
In 24 hours starting from 8:00 am yesterday, Biman will operate six hajj flights including one from Chittagong carrying over 2,000 pilgrims, Shakil Meraj, general manager, public relations of Biman said.
Biman and Saudi Airlines started carrying pilgrims from July 24 and will continue till the morning of August 28.
Some 127,198 pilgrims are scheduled to perform hajj from Bangladesh.
Of them, 122,998 pilgrims are under private management, while the rest 4,200 are under government management, according to the religious affairs ministry.