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A visit to the Calicut Hajj camp

Sunday, November 15, 2009 02:21:48 PM, PP Rasheed and Luqman TP

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As you enter the Calicut Airport Hajj camp, a captivatingly serene ambience welcomes you. Active and energetic volunteers – young, old, men and women – running errands for Hajis who are soon to be the guests of Allah at Makkah. Clad in white clothes and hijab, hundreds of male and female Hajis arrive and board flights from here. Warm embraces, firm shake-hands, heartfelt prayer promises, smiling tears – all are manifestations of love by those who come to see off.


Believers who go to the House of Allah for salvation impress you a lot. Even when they hear of irresponsible flight cancellations, thanks to “technical reasons”, nobody complains, rather they continue chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik.” The simplicity and piety imprinted on their faces, gesticulations and the visible calmness in their spirits grip every visitor.


Karippur Hajj camp at Calicut Airport is one among the 19 Hajj embarkations points in India this year as against 17 the previous year. Calicut camp has got the reputation of being the largest in Kerala and one of the best organized in the country. Thanks to the tradition of systematic arrangements by the State Hajj Committee, it is a home away from home for Hajis, with all comforts and facilities.

None has yet raised any complaint on the conducting of Hajj camps over many years irrespective of political party or alliance in power in the state. Calicut camp is said to be the most lasting camp in the country.


More than 9246 pilgrims are departing from here including nearly 1500 pilgrims from the states of Karnataka, Puducherry and Lakshadweep, informs P.T.A Raheem, Member of Legislative Assembly and Chairman of Kerala State Hajj Committee. The Calicut camp commenced on October 19 with the inauguration by the State Hajj Affairs minister.

It would last for more than 30 days in order to accommodate nearly 10,000 pilgrims from various South Indian states. Unless the scheduled flights are not cancelled or altered, the camp is expected to remain functional till November 20.


As the transportation of Hajj pilgrims from India to Saudi Arabia is monopolized by Air India, the national air carrier, nobody dares to question their irresponsible acts of flight rescheduling at eleventh hour. At the beginning itself Air India has violated the assurance of using the jumbo jet aircrafts which can carry 250 pilgrims. But Air India hired Saudi Arabian private airline service National Air Services due to the lack of aircraft availability with them. As ‘NAS’ also has no bigger aircrafts, currently only 238 pilgrims board Hajj flights everyday. This has adversely affected the whole schedule which was prepared earlier. The authorities bother little to offer explanation or solution to the inconvenience caused to Hajis by flight rescheduling.

However, when we ask Hajis about all these negligence, pilgrims do not much speak up or complain; as they all have naturally consolidated their thought and soul into one direction: Makkah, Hajj, Allah. Perhaps the authority knows that they wouldn’t complain.


The pilgrims have to report to the camp 24 hours before their scheduled departure. They have to get registered at the camp. Once the registration is completed they undergo medical check up which certifies “No H1N1”. Then the baggage would be handed over to the officials. Thereafter, the pilgrims can take rest. Next day, from the morning itself the officials start distributing travel documents, cash worth of 1750 Saudi currency and the boarding pass. In addition to that, the officials will give detailed directions to the pilgrims about their journey. Then, the pilgrims are taken to Calicut airport from the Hajj Camp by bus. Emigration and body check up will be held at the Hajj terminal in the airport. Domestic terminal is being used as the Hajj terminal.


Even private Hajj operators use this camp for the medical checkup of their pilgrims especially for the No H1N1 certificate. With flagging off the first Hajj flight on October 20 by Elamaram Kareem, Minister of Industries, each single day more than 238 pilgrims are departing from Calicut. Since Air India allowed an additional aircraft, which can accommodate 125 pilgrims, number of Hajj pilgrims has been increased to 363 from October 31 onwards.


This year more than 1.6 lakh pilgrims are going to Hajj from India.

Among them 1.15 lakh are under the Central Hajj Committee and the rest are facilitated by private travel agencies. Each of the pilgrims going through the Hajj Committee will be credited with an amount of Rs. 47454 as subsidy allowed by the Central Government as against the private sectors. Same time there is report that the Government has reduced Rs 4000 from the existing subsidy this year. However, the Kerala Hajj Committee Chairman, Mr. PTA Raheem told us that the Hajj Committee has not yet received any information regarding this.


The authors are Post-Graduate students of journalism at Calicut University









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