Take action against dishonest agencies
Following recent media reports on irregularities in hajj management and conning hajis, Transparency International Bangladesh has urged the government to ensure exemplary punishment for the hajj agencies involved in the wrongdoings.
In a press release yesterday, the TIB also requested the government to find out irregularities and corruption in this sector through an independent and neutral investigation.
“Like every year, different types of allegations, including cancellation of hajj flights, delay in hajj flight operation, failure to send pilgrims to Saudi Arabia even after taking money from them and providing them with low-quality food, have been brought against several hajj agencies this year,” said Iftekharuzzaman, TIB executive director.
If strict action is not taken against the agencies for their wrongdoings, they would do those things on a large scale, while the pilgrims would be affected financially and their plight would continue, he added.
Unfortunately, the government's hajj management authorities and the hajj agencies were blaming each other for the mismanagement and irregularities instead of taking any effective measures to solve the problem permanently, Iftekharuzzaman observed.
“It is really very depressing that the complaints of the victim pilgrims are not resolved every year. For this reason, corruption and irregularities are being institutionalised in this sector as those who are involved in fraud and corruption do not face trial,” he added.
Iftekharuzzaman also said the country's image is being tarnished following the international media reports on sufferings of Bangladeshi pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and hajj agencies' irregularities and cheatings.
As no effective action has been taken yet against the hajj agencies' wrongdoing, the government has to take the responsibility for the hajis' plight, he said.
The anti-corruption watchdog has also urged the government to blacklist the hajj agencies involved in irregularities and cheatings and give the permission to send hajis to Saudi Arabia only to those agencies which are qualified.
Contacted, Abdul Jalil, acting secretary of religious affairs ministry, said they were taking action against the hajj agencies and people who were found guilty of irregularities and cheatings.
“Last year, we punished 172 hajj agents. We will take action against any hajj agent if we get any written complaint against him,” he said, adding that they have got allegations of mismanagement against two agents this year.
A total of 1,01,163 hajis got hajj visas this year, he added.