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More than one lakh to go for Haj
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman

Devotees are scattered all over. It is great to see hundreds and hundreds of people aspiring to go for Haj in white tents in our very own city. These people will fly within a day or two to Jeddah and from their on will be ferried to Mecca to complete the Haj rituals. 

A whopping 0.120 million people are slated to leave for Haj this year and around one-fourth, 26000 people, will board flights for Jeddah from Delhi alone. The rest will be leaving from Mumbai, Kolkata, Kochi, Bangalore, Calicat, Hyderabad and Ahmadabad. Seventy two thousand people will go for Haj through Haj Committee arrangements and others will be going by making their own arrangements or by private agents, scattered throughout the country. Around seven thousand people had to board the flights from Ahmadabad, but after the devastating earth-quack that rocked the whole Western state of Gujarat including Ahmadabad on 26 January, all flights from there were postponed, but later the flights for Jeddah were resumed. Tanveer Ahmad chairman, Central Haj Committee told the Milli Gazette that the flights have been restored and now Hajis from the state will be able to fly to Jeddah from Ahmadabad itself.

A number of people in the Delhi Haj Committee camp near Turkaman Gate who will be leaving for the Haj have expressed satisfaction over the services rendered by the Haj Committee. Muhammad Munir who came from Lucknow told this correspondent that the Delhi Haj Committee has done a good job and has made good arrangements for lodging and fooding facilities for the devotees. 

Another devotee coming fromMuzaffarnagar, Nisar Ahmad was all praiseful for the people managing the camp in the Capital. He said that people who had earlier gone for Haj had given an absolutely opposite picture of this camp, but arrangements here are excellent. Other people too expressed similar thoughts in and around the camp. 

Hajis are also very happy over the facilities being provided by the Haj Committee this time. They have expressed their satisfaction over the medical facilities being provided by the organizers of the largest contingent of Hajis from any destination in the world. Muhammad Hanif who fell ill and caught severe fever on 3rd February in the Haj camp established by the Delhi Haj Committee near Turkaman Gate area was promptly taken care of by the authorities in the Camp. When the Haj Camp's medical facilities proved insufficient to cater to the need he was taken to a nearby hospital by the authorities and was treated well. Hanif is now full of kudos for these people.

The authorities have also made excellent arrangements for the Hajis at the air port. For the very first time an exclusive Haj Terminus has been opened for flights ferrying the pilgrims. Excellent arrangements have been made for the pilgrim at the Haj Terminus at the Indra Gandhi International Airport. There are eight check-in counters, six immigration counters and two custom counters for the speedy completion of the procedures here. The authorities have also opened three frisking booths and one X-ray machine has also been provided at the terminus. 

Inside the terminus too fairly good arrangements have been made for the pilgrims. There is a dining hall and separate arrangements have been made for men and women, where as a space of 320 sq. feet has been separated for offering prayers. Even the people who come to see off the pilgrims have been given due attention. Special arrangements have been made for them outside the Haj Terminus for their stay and other essentials have been provided there for them.

The only thing causing worry during this whole exercise is an arbitrary rule. The Haj Committee is asking every Haji to pay Rs 500 each for the earthquake victims of Gujarat. It has confused the people. They say that they are forced to shell out this amount as they are told that the chairman will not sign on their forms till they pay Rs 500. An office bearer in the Central Haj Committee told this correspondent that when a Haji can collect eighty thousand rupees for Haj, why he cannot shell out Rs 500. But people say that it adds another burden on them. A number of people complained of the same to this correspondent. The chairman Tanveer Ahmad refuses the charge and says that it is only voluntary. And we are not pressurizing anyone to pay this small amount, he adds. 

On the whole it can be said that the Haj exercise is going to be better than the last year as the Haj Committee was criticized for a number of shortcomings last year. We expect that it has learnt a lesson.

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