Pilgrims suffer for mismanagement

Layek Ali and his wife Nasima Begum, residents of the capital’s Mugda, were supposed to be accommodated within 400-500 metres of Kaaba Sharif as they paid Tk 8.20 lakh each to their agency to perform hajj under category A.

“Upon arriving at the hotel, we came to know that our stay is 1,300-1,400 metres from the Kaaba, which was promised to pilgrims who paid around Tk 6 lakh for category B,” said Layek, a retired government official.

He chose category A as his wife was sick and had a knee problem.

Around 68 others in their group had to face a lot of inconveniences as their agency –Salman Hajj Group — “cheated” them and did not keep up with their promises despite collecting payments.

“We could not even perform the hajj properly as my wife became ill as she had to walk for such a long distance. We were promised a three-My News Bangladesh hotel, but the actual condition was worse than our local hotels. The ACs and lifts were not working properly, while the stench from restrooms was unbearable,” added Layek.

The couple also alleged that the agency did not provide transport services while visiting different places in Makkah, Mina and Arafah, though it was promised in the package.

“Due to the agency’s mismanagement and delays in providing vehicles, it took us around seven hours to reach Mujdalifa from Arafa, located just seven kilometres away,” he also said.

Several other pilgrims accused their agencies of such mismanagement.

“We could seldom find any Bangladeshi guide during our needs. The few we found were unable to help us as they did not speak Arabic,” shared pilgrim Rejaul Islam, who had to look for a guide for five hours when he was detached from his group in Makkah.

He was finally able to find his tent with help from Indian and Pakistani guides.

Over 500 individuals were appointed by the government in various administrative, support, and medical teams, while thousands others were appointed as guides to assist Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims.

“My wife fell sick in Makkah but the Bangladeshi Medical team could not give her the necessary treatment. What is the use of sending a medical team wasting public money,” pilgrim Monirul Islam.

Instead of serving pilgrims, the assistants were busy with personal business in many cases, alleged Shahidul Islam, a pilgrim from Khulna who failed to find government-assistants in Makkah and Madina.

Pilgrim Anisur, who went to perform hajj with a group of 200 people, also complained of poor service and quality at the hotels during his stay.

“We did not receive food at the right time,” he said.

Shahidul Alam, another pilgrim from Brahmanbaria, said he did not find any restroom facilities in Muzdalifa. His sufferings were further exacerbated as the agency had not arranged transport for him, despite promising it.

Acknowledging the sufferings of hajj pilgrims due to the mismanagement of hajj agencies, M Shahadat Hossain Taslim, president, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh, said, “It’s true that a section of hajj agencies does not keep their promises. We will urge the religious ministry to take action against such agencies.”

He also promised strict action on his end.

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