Kashmiri Hajj pilgrims decry poor arrangements in Mecca

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Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia during Hajj
Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia during Hajj

SRINAGAR — Several Kashmiri Hajj pilgrims who embarked on the holy journey of Hajj from Srinagar on May 16, 2024, expressed strong resentment over poor arrangements at Mecca. The aggrieved pilgrims alleged that the group made all-out efforts in every possible way and moved from pillar to post to get their due complaints resolved but all in vain.

Speaking to the local news agency KNS, Syed Shafaq (PP No. S9423449) and Shafiq Hussain (PP No. S4842333) said, “We pilgrims of batch dated 16-05-2024 consisting 322 pilgrims were initially prepared in the Haj training conducted at Srinagar Haj House to be taken to Madina Munawara first from Srinagar, however, on the departure, we were surprisingly given boarding cards showing arrival at Jedda and were then taken to Makkah.”

The pilgrims said after spending a week in Makkah, they requested to be taken to Madina Munawara but the Maktab (concerned agency responsible for managing and facilitating the group on behalf of the Saudi Government) denied the same on the pretext that the group does not belong to their Maktab having ID No. 276 and actually belong to Maktab No. 173.

The group was informed that this had happened due to an error that was taking place at State Haj Committee Srinagar, responsible for the assignment of Maktabs.

They said that after conducting a series of meetings with officials of Indian Haj Office Makkah, the matter was resolved after several days of strenuous efforts and the batch of pilgrims was handed over to new Maktab No. 173 who took the entire group of pilgrims to Madina Munawara on the evening of May 28, 2024, barring 19 pilgrims whose names didn’t figure in the list of Maktab No. 173 for unknown reasons.

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The 19 pilgrims (11 in building No. 91 and 8 in building No. 134) were not taken to Madina Munawara for none of their fault, who are currently passing through a traumatic situation by being left here at Makkah high and dry, they said.

They added that even the Khudams concerned failed to do anything in this regard, who also left for Madina with the group and abandoned them as helpless and mute spectators. “We made all-out efforts in every possible way and went from pillar to post to get along with the group to Madina but all in vain. No one came to our help,” they added.

Further, big promises made by Hajj Committee members at Srinagar that very good arrangements shall be in place for all pilgrims this year proved to be a lie, as per the pilgrims. “However, the reality on the ground was contrary i.e., five persons bundled in an in-capacious room with small washrooms in Mecca. The accommodation is with poor Wi-Fi connectivity and sans basic facilities like washing machines etc,” they continued.

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Expressing disappointment over poor and inadequate arrangements, the pilgrims said this is a pathetic situation they are presently put in. “It indicates gross mismanagement right from leaving from Srinagar where at the eleventh hour, we were informed to be going to Jedda instead of Mecca and faced a lot of inconvenience and mental agony in one way or the other till date.”

Speaking over the phone, they said that at this time (11 am Saudi time), they are at the Indian Hajj Office in Mecca to find out some resolution to their woes but no firm and positive response has been given by Indian officials, who also raise their hands in the matter with the pretext that this is the problem at the Maktab-276 end and they are unable to help us in this matter.

“We are currently disturbed and distressed. 19 pilgrims feel to have been left at the mercy of Allah,” they added.

Executive Officer Haj House Bemina, Dr Shujaat Qureshi, said that a minor issue had arisen with one of the Maktabs, affecting 18 pilgrims. He assured that he was personally handling the matter and would resolve it within the next 24 hours.

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