The continuous mismanagement of hajj arrangements in the country has become an endemic state failure. The callousness in the management of such a significant religious matter is unacceptable. New laws are being drawn up every day, but there is no specific law regarding hajj. Quite a few years ago a draft law pertaining to hajj was drawn up, but it never saw the light of day.
The government in recent years has been taking some action against those responsible for cheating, irregularities and mismanagement of the hajj arrangements. This is a positive step. The website of the religious affairs ministry describes measures that have been taken over the past two years against persons responsible for these discrepancies. This transparency and accountability certainly deserves praise.
Unfortunately, though the certificates of the dubious agencies are cancelled and fines are imposed, every year when hajj comes around, it’s the same picture of suffering and irregularities. The government may gain financially be cancelling licences and imposing fines, but this has not benefitted the hajj pilgrims.
In most countries of the world, the hajj pilgrimage is organised by the governments. Bangladesh is an exception. Only 10 thousand, out of the quota of 127,198 go to perform hajj under government arrangements. The rest have to resort to private agencies. According to a Prothom Alo 4 April report, despite all sorts of measures, the mismanagement of the hajj arrangements remains the same.
We want to put forward some recommendations to put an end to the mismanagement and assuage the sufferings of the hajj pilgrims.
Firstly, a hajj law must be drawn up. Secondly, the religious affairs secretary, or any other such appropriate official, must be kept in charge of the hajj management for a few years at a stretch. A post may even be created for the purpose. Thirdly, the number of agencies must be reduced. Presently there are 1400 certified agencies, though less than 650 are active. Often one person owns several agencies, so even if one licence is cancelled, he uses his other agencies. Fourthly, the hajj pilgrims need to be made aware so they don’t agree on going to hajj for an amount less than fixed by the government. Fifthly, the agents must have government recognition. In the sixth place, the religious ministry has published a 50-point hajj calendar which is a good initiative, but they need to mention the penalty for violating these points.