Rising to challenge: Telangana Haj Committee prepares for more pilgrims this season

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: The Telangana State Haj Committee is faced with an unprecedented challenge this year. It has to handle a staggering 11000 pilgrimage for Haj 2024, an unusually large number. It is for the first time that the Haj Committee will be taking care of such a large number of Hajis and ensuring their safe travel to Saudi Arabia.

This piquant situation has arisen as a good number of pilgrims from neighboring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have chosen to depart from the Hyderabad embarkation point. While pilgrims from Telangana are 7790, those from the adjacent States have swelled the number to 11016. This number is bound to stretch limits of preparations.

The newly elected Haj Committee chairman, Syed Gulam Afzal Biabani (Khusro Pasha), has his hands full. Undeterred by the gigantic task ahead, he has started preparing for the challenge from day one. Though tentatively the pilgrims are scheduled to depart for Haj from May 9 to 26, he has commenced advance planning for the spiritual voyage.

Over the years the number of faithful embarking on the sacred journey to Saudi Arabia has grown. This year the State Haj Committee was flooded with 11313 applications but as per the allotted quota only 7790 were selected through ‘qurrah’ (draw of lots). Of this 4900 are from Hyderabad alone.

However, this year a large number of pilgrims from neighboring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra have opted for Hyderabad as their point of departure, adding to the task of the Telangana State Haj Committee. Logistics is not a problem for the Haj Committee which has been handling the pilgrims in the united Andhra Pradesh. But even after bifurcation of the State, many pilgrims from A.P want to depart from the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad in view of the excellent arrangements made here.

For Biabani, who earlier headed the State Wakf Board, handling Haj pilgrims is an uncharted territory. But he has risen to the occasion and within days of taking charge has commenced meetings with staff to meet the challenge. In view of the enormity of the task, he is meticulously planning logistics and carefully scrutinizing all details about vaccination, accommodation, transportation and food arrangements for the pilgrims who will be staying in the Haj House.  He further wants to streamline the process of issue of passports, foreign exchange, customs, immigration check and baggage screening done at Haj House. It is proposed to requisition the services of volunteers to ensure safety and comfort of the pilgrims.

“We will not leave anything to chance. Precision planning will be done to ensure that the arrangements are excellent and pilgrims are given all the facilities during their stay here and in their onward journey to Saudi Arabia,” Biabani remarked. After the month of Ramzan, he plans to visit Makkah and Madinah to check the buildings selected for the pilgrims.

After a gap of 17 years, pilgrims from Hyderabad will be departing to Madinah instead of Jeddah. In the coming days more training camps for the selected pilgrims are planned in Hyderabad and other districts. “Our aim is to ensure that the sacred journey of the Hajis is as safe and meaningful as possible,” Biabani said.

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