Haj pilgrims overwhelmed by State reception

Special Correspondent
Silchar, July 4: A total of 1100 Haj pilgrims from Barak Valley bound for pilgrimage at Mecca will leave on July 14. These pilgrims were accorded warm reception by Ranjit Dutta, minister of minority welfare, textile, horticulture and sericulture, who came down here to accord felicitation to the Haj pilgrims, wishing them all the best for their pilgrimage. Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister, will be present at Haj Musafirkhana at Guwahati to bid farewell to all the assembled pilgrims from Assam before their departure on July 14. They will board Guwahati-Saudi Arabia flight to reach the holy place of Mecca.

Ranjit Dutta said it is for the first time that such reception has been organized by the Sonowal government. Each pilgrim assembled at Gandhi Bhawan here on Tuesday was provided by a gamosa, the symbol of pride and glory of Assam. He advised the Haj pilgrims to always wear and carry it during their holy sojourn. He reminded gamosa would add to their grace and dignity and their very identity of belonging to the land of Shrimanta Shankar Dev and Ajan Fakir who always preached the message of peace, harmony and brotherhood among all sections of people. Women were gifted headscarves (hijab).

This year, a total number of 379 Haj pilgrims from Cachar district will leave for pilgrimage. The contingent from Cachar includes 119 pious women. From Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, 281 and 500 pilgrims respectively will form part of the journey to Mecca. According to the arrangement, pilgrims from Assam landing at Kolkata for onward journey will be taken care of by Aminul Haque Laskar, MLA Sonai, and Anwar Hussain Laskar, MLA Hailakandi. At a simple function held at Gandhi Bhawan on the occasion, Ranjit Dutta said his government is serious about the development of the minority community on the basic declaration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikash’.

Rs.5 crore has been allotted by his BJP led government for the construction of Haj Bhawan here. The minister disclosed Rs.2 crore which has already been sanctioned. The Haj Bhawan will also be a centre of skill development training for Muslim youths in order to make them self-reliant. He further said 3 residential model schools with all facilities of modern education have been planned in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi with an investment of Rs.30 crore each. The entire funding will be from the Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

Ranjit Dutta took a swipe at the earlier State governments for squandering away crores of rupees sanctioned by the Central governments of the time for the welfare of minorities. Instead of taking any concrete steps, the huge amount of money remained unaccounted for and the minorities were fed with false assurances. This is well known to even the ministers holding the portfolios concerned in their government at Dispur. In order to acclimatize the pilgrims for the long journey and their stay at Mecca, district Haj committees of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi organized three month long orientation training for them. The state government similarly held 2 day orientation programme. The function was presided over by S Lakshmanan, Deputy Commissioner, Cachar. Representatives of district administration of Hailakandi and Karimganj were also present. Also present was Nekibul Zaman, working chairman, North East Haj Coordination Committee. The Haj pilgrims in a chorus expressed their profound joy at the way the State government has taken the noble initiative to greet them and wish them all the best on their holy sojourn. In fact, this scribe interacted with some of the Haj pilgrims who were simply overwhelmed by the sincerity and commitment of Sonowal led government to think of their wellness and welfare. They expressed their happiness to know that direct flight from Silchar to Saudi Arabia is also being planned by the State and the Ministry of Civil Aviation is being moved in this regard.