Gross mismanagement of Haj return flights this year appears to be snowballing into a major controversy with the Central Haj Committee accusing regulatory agencies of a deliberate attempt to create chaos by placing restrictions on the company operating Haj flights. MP State Haj Committee had also held Air India directly responsible for the inconvenience caused to Haj pilgrims.
A letter written by CEO of Central Haj Committee, Ataur Rahman to joint secretary of ministry of civil aviation, CMD Air India and other authorities during the period when schedule of Haj flights had completely gone haywire said, "The operation of return phase of Haj charter operation of Air India has collapsed completely."
The letter further said that flights meant for Goa were delayed for as many as three days, while in other cases delay of 10 hours had become a norm. But what Rahman said in the concluding sentence of the paragraph has now led to a controversy.
He said, "We have come to know that there is some restriction placed by regulatory agencies on the company operating the flights," indirectly hinting that there was some conspiracy at the highest levels which led to unprecedented chaos witnessed in the arrival of return Haj flights.
Interestingly, the correspondence between the CEO of Central Haj Committee and authorities concerned was made public by MP State Haj Committee when it faced the flak of public.
Spokesperson of Air India, S Venkat did not reply on specific query about alleged restrictions placed by regulatory authorities but said that they had completed Haj operations successfully. AI operated 480 flights and carried more than 50,000 Haj pilgrims from 14 embarkation points in 10 states, said Venkat.
The gross mismanagement in scheduling return Haj flights became an issue when pilgrims returning to Bhopal were alighted at Ahmedabad airport, where they remained stranded for more than 18 hours without even basic amenities. The flight schedule for Bhopal had completely gone haywire and only two out of five flights reached Bhopal that too much behind the schedule.
The relatives of pilgrims gheroed the MP State Haj Committee office and its officials. Chairman of State Haj Committee Inayat Hussain Qureshi and CEO (chief executive officer) Dawood Khan had to face the wrath of relatives of Haj pilgrims, who were left stranded at the Ahmedabad airport.