290 Uttar Pradesh pilgrims fail to catch first Haj flight

October 30th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Oct 30 (IANS) About 290 pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh failed to board the first flight for Haj from here as their “passports and visas” had not arrived, a pilgrim said.There was confusion among the Uttar Pradesh pilgrims, who assembled here to board the first flight for Haj from the state capital.

Out of the 590 pilgrims, who were to leave for Haj Thursday, nearly 290 of them did not get their passports stamped with visas and had to cancel the trip.

The annoyed pilgrims held a demonstration at the state Haj House, demanding an explanation from the officials concerned.

“It is quite frustrating. We completed all the formalities for the holy trip much before. Now, at the eleventh hour we are being told that we cannot go to Haj as our passports and visas have not arrived,” Mohd Ibrahim, a Haj pilgrim, told IANS.

Ibrahim, who hails from Lalitpur district, some 250 km from Lucknow, said he had been enquiring about the status of his passport and visa with the state Haj committee for the last four days.

“Every time when we approached the state Haj committee officials to enquire about passport and visa, they (officials) told us not to worry. But now, when passports and visas have not arrived, they are not answering any of our queries,” said Mohd Ismail, who had come from Jhansi, about 300 kms from Lucknow, along with four of his relatives to board the flight.

The state Haj Committee admitted to the inconvenience caused to the Haj pilgrims and blamed the Central Haj Committee for it.

“Completing all the formalities, we have forwarded the application of the pilgrims to the CHC (Central Haj Committee) in July. Now, only the CHC can explain what went wrong,” said Laeeq Ahmed, state secretary state Haj committee.

This is for the first time that passports and visas of such a huge number of pilgrims have not arrived, he said.

“It appears that lack of coordination between CHC officials, foreign ministry and the consulate-general has caused this problem.”

Nearly 60,000 people from across Uttar Pradesh applied for the pilgrimage and 30,000 were selected by a lottery, officials said.

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