Saudi Govt. urges pregnant women, old and ill to avoid Haj:
Saudi Arabia Saturday recommended those at a high risk of catching
swine flu, like children, pregnant women and people suffering from
chronic ailments, to avoid Haj pilgrimage and help curb the spread
of the pandemic.
As you enter the
Calicut Airport Hajj camp, a captivatingly serene ambience welcomes
you. Active and energetic volunteers – young, old, men and women –
running errands for Hajis who are soon to be the guests of Allah at
Makkah. Clad in white clothes and hijab, hundreds of male and female
Hajis arrive and board flights from here. Warm embraces, firm
shake-hands, heartfelt prayer promises, smiling tears – all are
manifestations of love by those who come to see off.
Believers who go
to the House of Allah for salvation impress you a lot. Even when
they hear of irresponsible flight cancellations, thanks to
“technical reasons”, nobody complains, rather they continue chanting
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik.” The simplicity and piety imprinted on
their faces, gesticulations and the visible calmness in their
spirits grip every visitor.
Karippur Hajj camp
at Calicut Airport is one among the 19 Hajj embarkations points in
India this year as against 17 the previous year. Calicut camp has
got the reputation of being the largest in Kerala and one of the
best organized in the country. Thanks to the tradition of systematic
arrangements by the State Hajj Committee, it is a home away from
home for Hajis, with all comforts and facilities.
None has yet
raised any complaint on the conducting of Hajj camps over many years
irrespective of political party or alliance in power in the state.
Calicut camp is said to be the most lasting camp in the country.
More than 9246
pilgrims are departing from here including nearly 1500 pilgrims from
the states of Karnataka, Puducherry and Lakshadweep, informs P.T.A
Raheem, Member of Legislative Assembly and Chairman of Kerala State
Hajj Committee. The Calicut camp commenced on October 19 with the
inauguration by the State Hajj Affairs minister.
It would last for
more than 30 days in order to accommodate nearly 10,000 pilgrims
from various South Indian states. Unless the scheduled flights are
not cancelled or altered, the camp is expected to remain functional
till November 20.
transportation of Hajj pilgrims from India to Saudi Arabia is
monopolized by Air India, the national air carrier, nobody dares to
question their irresponsible acts of flight rescheduling at eleventh
hour. At the beginning itself Air India has violated the assurance
of using the jumbo jet aircrafts which can carry 250 pilgrims. But
Air India hired Saudi Arabian private airline service National Air
Services due to the lack of aircraft availability with them. As
‘NAS’ also has no bigger aircrafts, currently only 238 pilgrims
board Hajj flights everyday. This has adversely affected the whole
schedule which was prepared earlier. The authorities bother little
to offer explanation or solution to the inconvenience caused to
Hajis by flight rescheduling.
However, when we
ask Hajis about all these negligence, pilgrims do not much speak up
or complain; as they all have naturally consolidated their thought
and soul into one direction: Makkah, Hajj, Allah. Perhaps the
authority knows that they wouldn’t complain.
The pilgrims have
to report to the camp 24 hours before their scheduled departure.
They have to get registered at the camp. Once the registration is
completed they undergo medical check up which certifies “No H1N1”.
Then the baggage would be handed over to the officials. Thereafter,
the pilgrims can take rest. Next day, from the morning itself the
officials start distributing travel documents, cash worth of 1750
Saudi currency and the boarding pass. In addition to that, the
officials will give detailed directions to the pilgrims about their
journey. Then, the pilgrims are taken to Calicut airport from the
Hajj Camp by bus. Emigration and body check up will be held at the
Hajj terminal in the airport. Domestic terminal is being used as the
Even private Hajj
operators use this camp for the medical checkup of their pilgrims
especially for the No H1N1 certificate. With flagging off the first
Hajj flight on October 20 by Elamaram Kareem, Minister of
Industries, each single day more than 238 pilgrims are departing
from Calicut. Since Air India allowed an additional aircraft, which
can accommodate 125 pilgrims, number of Hajj pilgrims has been
increased to 363 from October 31 onwards.
This year more
than 1.6 lakh pilgrims are going to Hajj from India.
Among them 1.15
lakh are under the Central Hajj Committee and the rest are
facilitated by private travel agencies. Each of the pilgrims going
through the Hajj Committee will be credited with an amount of Rs.
47454 as subsidy allowed by the Central Government as against the
private sectors. Same time there is report that the Government has
reduced Rs 4000 from the existing subsidy this year. However, the
Kerala Hajj Committee Chairman, Mr. PTA Raheem told us that the Hajj
Committee has not yet received any information regarding this.
authors are Post-Graduate students of journalism at Calicut