The High Court on Sunday asked the foreign ministry to ensure visa for Hajj pilgrims before the scheduled flights contacting with the embassy of Saudi Arabia in 48 hours.
The bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan also asked the authorities to arrange special flights for Hajj pilgrims, who missed their scheduled flights because of the delay in getting visa.
The bench asked secretaries of the ministries of religious affairs, foreign affairs and civil aviation, chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh and Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh the government to explain their failure to ensure travel of Hajj pilgrims on time as per the fight schedule.
The bench passed the order after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
During the hearing, the court said that such mismanagement of Hajj was occurring each year but the crisis was later solved on the prime minister’s interference.
The court said that the crisis was created due to business of Hajj agents.
The court said that Hajj pilgrims need to get visa by August 17 as they would need to go to Saudi Arabia by September 4 to perform the Hajj.
Petitioner’s counsel Manzill Murshid argued that the government was responsible for the Hajj mismanagement as the pilgrims were not informed about the hike of Hajj service fees by Saudi government that caused the crisis.
The pilgrims would have got registered with additional fees if they were informed earlier by the government, he said.
At least 5,000 pilgrims might miss their flights as the Biman Bangladesh Airlines continued to cancel its Hajj flights due to passenger shortages.
Biman failed to send more than 10,500 pilgrims until the 18th day of its operations on August 10 although visas of 99,000 out of 1,21,000 pilgrims, who completed all formalities, were issued.
The religious affairs ministry blamed Hajj service providers, Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh, while the service providers blamed sudden hike in Hajj service fees in Saudi Arabia and additional charges on the return pilgrims within two years for the situation.
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