On return, Hajj pilgrims decry arrangements
SHC to take up flight ‘trouble’ at Jan meet
Srinagar, Dec 25: Even as the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, has taken up the issue of inadequate arrangements in Saudi Arabia for Hajj pilgrims with the Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, the Union Ministry and the Consulate General of India in Jeddah may not be able to provide any relief at least during this season. Several pilgrims he received on the first return flight at Srinagar early this month had complained of hardships they faced during the pilgrimage.
On their return, a group of pilgrims have expressed disgust over being deprived of suitable accommodation in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Bhat of Varmul (cover No. JK-3179-5-0) said he had paid for A-class (Green sector) accommodation but was lodged in B-class. He said the accommodation allotted to him was far away of Haram-e-Sharif and was difficult to commute from.
Several pilgrims said the Central Hajj Committee had allegedly failed to address various problems they faced. The Committee controls, manages and co-ordinates the arrangement through its Jeddah-based Consulate General and its adequately manned and equipped Hajj Offices at Makkah and Madinah. Most complaints made to the two offices pertain to change of accommodation for a variety of reasons, including health considerations. “The officials get some forms filled up by the aggrieved pilgrims assuring them of sending these to CHC, Mumbai, only to be consigned to the dustbin,” they alleged.
Most pilgrims were critical of the Khuddam-ul-Hujjaj the government had deputed for their help and guidance. “Soon after we landed in Makkah, they went into hiding and could not be seen during our stay except during our journey to and from Madinah and Jeddah,” Bhat said, adding the State Hajj Committee should have given them the basic orientation for guiding the pilgrims in the unfamiliar situation.
Apilgrim from Biner (Varmul), Abdul Raheem Wani, said he had not seen the Khadim-ul-Hujjaj since the day they arrived in Makkah. He said his group performed the Hajj and related rites without any guidance from the Khadim. “They Khuddam should have conducted the groups of pilgrims they accompanied through various stages the way their counterparts from many other countries did, even during the performance of various rites,” he said.
The disruption in several return flights at the Jeddah airport has caused avoidable hardship to hundreds of pilgrims who accused the authorities of mismanagement of return schedule. “We were brought to Jeddah airport according to the schedule but were stranded there due to cancellation of flights for some reason. While we awaited the departure, hundreds of those scheduled to leave in the subsequent flights were also brought to Jeddah which created chaotic conditions at the airport,” said a pilgrim pleading anonymity.
As if that were not enough, several return flights were diverted through the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, instead of coming direct to Srinagar. “We were flown from New Delhi to Srinagar, leaving behind our luggage and other belongings, including the eagerly asked for Zum Zum, in New Delhi,” Wani said. “I have to hire a private cab now to collect my belongings after these are brought to Srinagar,” he said. In fact, the pilgrims who had proceeded for Hajj on November 12 and 14 are yet to return.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, the SHC chairman, AG Shahbaz, admitted that pilgrims had faced problems on account of suitable accommodation, inadequate arrangements and the return flights. He said the Airport authorities at Srinagar did not allow direct flights from Jeddah to Srinagar due to some ongoing construction work on the runway. “We will take up the Air India performance at the meeting of all State Hajj Committees to be convened by the Central Hajj Committee in Delhi or Mumbai in January 2010,” he said, hoping it would be relieved of the Hajj charters from next season. “Hopefully, global tenders will be invited for the purpose from 2010,” Shahbaz said.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Dec 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Dec 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Dec 2009 00:00:00 IST
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