Hajj flights begin today
This year's first hajj flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines is scheduled to depart at 7:55am today from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon and Religious Affairs Minister Principal Matior Rahman will be at the airport to see off the 419 hajjis, ministry sources said.
Although mismanagement in hajj flight schedule, poor accommodation facility for hajjis and fraudulence of private hajj operators have been common in recent years, this year they have taken all-out preparation to operate hajj flights timely, Md Hafizuddin, joint secretary of religious affairs ministry, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Talking to this newspaper earlier, Menon and Matior said they would take stern action if any negligence was found against private hajj agencies or others in carrying hajjis to Saudi Arabia and providing them their accommodation there.
They took all measures for smooth operation of the flights. If any private hajj operator failed to complete the procedures and any of their pilgrims missed a flight, the tour agent concerned would be punished, the ministers said.
Hajj, the largest religious congregation of the Muslims, and Eid-ul-Azha are likely to be held in early September.
A government official at Ashkona Hajj Camp in the capital said over 3,500 pilgrims under government management already received their visas from the Saudi embassy in Dhaka. “We hope there will be no mismanagement in this year's hajj,” the official said wishing anonymity.
Ibrahim Bahar, president of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star that over 6,500 pilgrims under private management also got their visas.
He added that almost all the private hajj agencies completed accommodation reservation for their pilgrims, and that they deposited required amount in bank accounts authorised by the Saudi authorities.
“The agencies are now busy verifying the confirmation of visas and air tickets for the pilgrims," he said.
Some 1,27,198 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform the annual ritual this year.