Indian Haj pilgrims unhappy over lack of facilities at Azizia buildings in Makkah

Friday, June 16, 2023

Hyderabad: Their hopes of having a hassle free pilgrimage are turning sour this year. Particularly those Haj pilgrims who have proceeded through the State Haj Committees are having a tough time in Makkah.

To their shock and disbelief pilgrims have found a plethora of problems in store for them in the Azizia region where they are put up. A common complaint is the presence of fewer toilets and bathrooms. In most buildings pilgrims are seen queuing up before toilets. Worse, the toilet doors don’t close properly and taps run dry most of the time. Women pilgrims are having a miserable time on account of this situation. Facilities in the kitchen are no better. Many kitchens have no fridge. Five to six persons are accommodated in a room with the result there is no privacy for women. Insufficient air conditioners are only adding to the problems, it is said.  Irate pilgrims are uploading videos clips on social media to vent their grievances.

Pilgrims from North India seem to have more problems. Some pilgrims staying in building No 177 have threatened to sit on the road with their luggage if their grievances are not resolved immediately. For many pilgrims problems started the moment they landed in Makkah. Some of them have not got their baggage in full even a week after their arrival in Saudi Arabia. Complaints to the Indian Haj Committee office in Makkah have proved to be of no avail. Some pilgrims are having problems with the mobile SIMs provided to them. They are not getting activated and they are forced to go for fresh SIMs paying exorbitant amounts, it is said.

The Azizia region is at a distance of about 4 km from Haram (the grand mosque). Pilgrims were assured of free transport facility round the clock at a frequency of 10 to 15 minutes. But the ground reality is different. “We have to wait for half an hour and more for the bus service,” said an angry pilgrim of UP whose Cover No is 4132.

Pilgrims are furious that the facilities promised to them by the Haj Committee in India are not to be found in Makkah. “We have spent Rs 4 lakh each but we are not provided even basic facilities here,” deplored a Haji and said the Khadimul Hujjaj (Haj volunteers) sent to help them out are nowhere to be seen. The other day there was a fire mishap in building No 32 in Azizia following a short circuit. More than 200 pilgrims are staying in this building and all of them rushed out and sat outside since there was no light inside. A video clip showed pilgrims fuming at the Haj Committee officials for not responding to their complaint in time. “When other countries are looking after their pilgrims well why can’t the Indian government do,” asked a Haji. Pilgrims want the Indian Haj Mission to get in touch with the Saudi authorities to sort out the issues.

However, there are not many complaints from Telangana State Haj Committee pilgrims. “We have all facilities and buses to Haram are available round the clock at a frequency of 10 minutes”, said Shoebuddin Khateeb of Hyderabad. His family and kin are staying in building No 255 in Azizia.