Saudis blame hajj office

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Rozina Islam | Aug 18, 2015

Couple Monowar Hossain and Fazilatunnesa had their flight at 9:05am on Monday and they went to Ashkona hajj camp by Sunday evening for the purpose. When they contacted the Biman Bangladesh Airlines office, they came to know that Fazilatunnesa got the visa but her husband did not. It was not yet confirmed whether he would get the visa.

The couple then went back home.

A number of her colleagues are also expected to go to perform hajj this year. They, too, did not get visa.

Almost 400 devotees failed to take the flight to Saudi Arabia on Monday, the second day of hajj flight, due to complications with e-visa.

The Bangladesh hajj office is being blamed by the Saudi government for the visa issue.

A letter, issued by Bangladesh’s foreign affairs ministry and forwarded to the religions affairs secretary, said the Saudi embassy informed them (foreign office authorities) that the hajj office failed to deliver the passports at the right time.

The Saudi authorities were said to have received 1,000 passports at the last minute so that they could not issue the visa.

The Saudi embassy said they kept office open on the weekly holiday on Saturday, to help Bangladesh people.

Also, they said they could not issue visa against 300 passports due to improper size of the photos used in the applications.

However, the religious affairs ministry differed with the Saudi authorities.

In a letter, the religious affairs ministry told the foreign ministry that a number visa was denied due to fault in technical management and inconsistency in information.

The religious affairs ministry fears flight disruptions due to the denial of visas.

Religious affairs secretary Chowdhury M Babul Hasan requested the foreign ministry to take necessary steps in this regard.

Ashkona hajj office director Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal denied the allegation of not submitting the passports in proper.

The pilgrims at the hajj camp were disappointed to see the situation.

Abdullah Hil Wahid of Salamat hajj travels and tours said none of the 524 hajj devotees from his two agencies got visa till now. He held the hajj office responsible for the plight.

An official of the home ministry said he and his mother did not get visa till now. He talked to his agent but no solution as available.

Around 101,758 Bangladeshi pilgrims are expected to perform hajj this year. Of them 2,700 will go to Saudi Arabia under government arrangement while the rest under private arrangement. Biman Bangladesh Airlines will carry 51,000 pilgrims.

Some 1500 hajj pilgrims reached Jeddah in four flights of Bangladesh Biman and Saudi airlines on 16 August. Almost 5,500 hajj pilgrims went there in 13 flights on Monday.