Every year a large number of devout Muslims of the country go to perform the holy hajj with much enthusiasm. Not to say, they spend so much money for that purpose. However, the pilgrims have to undergo enormous sufferings at almost every step during their hajj journey due to the negligence and capriciousness of the hajj agencies and other authorities concerned. And such incidents recur every year, which is not only unfortunate but also disturbing.
According to Biman Bangladesh Airlines sources, the national flag carrier has had to cancel 21 flights in total due to shortage of passengers till Thursday after the outbound journey of the hajj flights had started this year. And the reason behind the shortage of passengers is that a number of hajj agencies have failed to submit visa applications of many pilgrims in time.
As a result, several thousand pilgrims whose flights have been cancelled are passing their time at the Ashkona Hajj Camp in the capital with anxiety as they are feeling uncertain about making the pilgrimage due to frequent cancellation of flights. We are really annoyed at this situation. We feel this state of affairs has been brought about by a sheer lack of responsibility of the hajj agencies.
The religious affairs ministry on Thursday issued a 'red notice' for four agencies over their failure to submit visa applications of 800 pilgrims and asked them to complete the visa processing of all the pilgrims being dealt with by them within one day. We are not sure whether the agencies would have been able to complete the processing as per the ultimatum. But we feel it was their responsibility to complete the necessary proceedings beforehand but since they have failed to carry out what they were supposed to do, necessary punishment measures must be taken against them. This is because it is the duty of the agencies and operators to ensure a smooth process for the pilgrims, not to add more sufferings to them.
Apart from expressing our hope for a quick solution to the present crisis, we urge the authorities concerned to make all necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free stay in Saudi Arabia and return journey for the pilgrims who are performing hajj this year. Besides, plans must be chalked out now so that hajj-goers do not have to encounter similar situations next year. We do not want to hear the same old excuses again and again.
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