by Insha Shirazi
SRINAGAR: As the Hajj pilgrims are preparing to take off for Mecca, the exorbitant transportation charges to ferry them from the Hajj House in Bemina to the airport in Srinagar has shocked all. They are supposed to pay Rs 900 per head for the bus ride.
In a notification, the Hajj Committee has asked the pilgrims to deposit an amount of Rs 900 as transport charges in the Committee account numbers.
The pilgrims who are scheduled to leave in the first week of June, have expressed their resentment over excessive transport charges being charged by the Hajj Committee of Jammu and Kashmir.
Barkat Ali, a Hajj pilgrim from Pulwama said that the Hajj Committee is charging an excessive amount for such a short distance.
“I have already deposited the amount in the given account number as I did not want to have any last-moment hurdles in my journey,” Ali said, “The officials concerned told us that they have arranged an air conditioning bus for our convenience but given the temperature of Kashmir, the AC bus was not a requirement at all.”
Another pilgrim, Ghulam Rasool from Srinagar City said that the government has hiked the prices to a level that there has remained very little difference between private hajj operators and the hajj conducted by the government.
“I called the Executive officer of the Hajj Committee of Kashmir to express my resentment on the excessive transport charges. I was told that after paying a handsome amount of money for Hajj, Rs 900 should not make a big difference to me,” Rasool said.
Safeena Beigh Chairperson of Hajj Committee said that transport charges for ferrying pilgrims is not decided by the Hajj Committee.
“We have nothing to do with it and it is beyond our jurisdiction. Transport charges and accommodation gets decided at ministerial level and the committee has no role in it,” Beigh said.
As per the notification of the JK Hajj Committee, all the Hajj pilgrims will have to deposit the transport charges in the designated account numbers.
“It is for the information of all selected Hajj Pilgrims that they shall deposit the Hajj arrangement dues, which includes Transport charges from Hajj House to Airport and other handling charges to be incurred by J&K Hajj Committee as per the details given below,” reads the notification.
“Pilgrims who do not want to avail of boarding/lodging facility at Hajj House, Srinagar shall pay Rs 900 per pilgrim only. Pilgrims belonging to Kashmir/Jammu Division who want to avail of the boarding lodging facility at Hajj House, Srinagar shall have to pay an amount of Rs 500 per night in addition to Rs 900 (i.e. 900+500-Rs.1400/-),” reads the notification. Interestingly, the night halt will cost them almost half of the bus ride!
The pilgrims for Hajj 2023 from JK will start leaving for Saudi Arabia from June 7 and two flights, carrying 315 pilgrims each will leave every day from Srinagar International Airport.
Interestingly, this bus fair will fetch the Haj Committee more than Rs 50 lakh in a single year.
Committee insiders said they have been charging this amount from the pilgrims every year. Last year it was Rs 850. Last year nearly 5900 people performed Hajj through the Jammu and Kashmir Hajj Committee