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For the first time in the country, the National Telecommunications Monitoring Centre (NTMC) has started ‘passport integration’ of the Hajj devotees to check human trafficking. Already, the NTMC, a national lawful communication interception agency, in cooperation with the ministry of religious affairs ministry and the private hajj agencies, has started the ‘passport integration’ of the hajj devotees from February 14, the sources in the religious affairs ministry said. - A home for your website

Owing to the introduction of the ’passport integration’ this year, Myanmar citizens known as Rohingya, terrorists and Bangla-speaking foreigners cannot be sent to Saudi Arabia in the name of hajj by corrupt hajj agencies, the sources added.

It is alleged that some corrupt hajj agencies have sent a number of Rohingya, terrorist and Bangla-speaking foreigners every year and they are tarnishing the image of the country.

Secretary of the religious affairs ministry Md. Anisur Rahman told The Independent that the authorities have integrated at least 5000 machine passports last five days, out of a total 1,27,000 MRPs of the hajj devotees this year.

“It will take 14 hours to 24 hours to complete the ’passport integration’ of a Hajj devotee,” he said.

“A Hajj devotee will go to his or her selected hajj agency with MRP after completing registration for performing hajj. Then, the hajj agency will put the passport number and some data to the ’integration system’ of the religious affairs ministry and the ministry will send it to the NTMC through the automatic system and the NTMC will forward it to the agency after approving the required data with proper securitisation,” the secretary explained how the system works.

“From this year, no agencies will be able to send Rohingyas, terrorists and Bangla-speaking foreigners to Saudi Arabia in the name of performing hajj.

At the same time, it will help to stop the ’hajj pilgrim replacement’ business by a section of hajj agencies,” the secretary informed.

Taking to this correspondent, secretary general of the Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) M. Shahdat Hossain Taslim said that they had welcomed introduction of the new ’passport integration’ system for Hajj pilgrims, but the authorities should alert as the hajj devotees should not suffer.

“We have demanded to the authorities concerned for not conducting police verification of the hajj pilgrims last few year. Instead of the police verification, the authorities have introduced the new system,” he said.

The secretary general of HAB informed that there were allegations that a section of hajj agencies were sending some people to Saudi Arabia in the name of performing hajj and they were not return home.

“We hope, no agency could send some unusual people in the name of hajj from this year,” he said. This year, 127,198 pilgrims will be able to attend Hajj from Bangladesh.

A total of 7,198 will visit Saudi Arabia under government management, while 120,000 others will do so under non-government management.