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Medical team without medical persons

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THE government is sending a 171-member Hajj Assistance Delegation to Saudi Arabia this year mainly to provide medical help to pilgrims but it has only 8 persons linked to medical profession. Surprisingly, the remaining 163 are office assistants, drivers, gunmen, policemen, security guards, cleaners, personal assistants, pump operators, typists, compositors, carpenters, store keepers and so on. The Hajj Ministry has selected most members of the team reportedly based on their loyalty to the party leaders although they have no skill to be helpful to the pilgrims anyway. The government every year sends medical team and it also includes party loyalists at different levels. But this year's selection appears quite scandalous having no relevance to their supposed duty to the pilgrims.

In fact the entire Hajj management is now more of a business to people organizing the trips from within and outside the government defying the religious sanctity it deserves. Corruption, extortions and harassing the pilgrims are what is distinctly noticeable at every step of the holy journey from registration of Hajj candidate to ticketing, booking of accommodation and Hajj flights operation. It is almost every day news now that the scheduled Hajj flights of the day remained grounded either because of delay in sorting out visa or placing replacement candidates against originally registered name of pilgrims that Hajj agencies now do for their Hajj slot. Such irregularities are more regular now instead of being treated as a fraudulent practice and crime. The rise of mushroom Hajj agencies under the shelter of the ruling party is playing the biggest role to violating the functional discipline of Hajj to turn it into a regular business. But it can't be acceptable; it must stop. 
So the selection of the team is not anything so surprising as the Religious Affairs Minister and others have taken the advantage to give favour to people for loyalty on personal or political ground. Exchange of money also is being alleged in some cases.

The so-called medical team alone includes 40 persons from the constituency of the Religious Affairs Minister. There are only three medical technologists, two pharmacists, two senior staff nurses and a health assistant. The number of office assistant is 45, drivers of Religious Affairs Ministry 27, gunmen and police 15. Ministers from other ministries recommended some of them.  The team members are supposed to provide medical help to sick pilgrims and assist them at airports in Jeddah and Madina. But what the gunmen, drivers and plumbers are to do is not clear. In fact it is free of cost luxury trip for them  and the cost is indirectly covered from dues paid by regular pilgrims. Meanwhile, past experience shows such team members maintain hardly any contact with the pilgrims in need of such support service.

It is so sad that the government is abusing Hajj by allowing the power to be misused.  We must say the religious sanctity of Hajj should be held high and pilgrims must be protected from harassment at different levels.  

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