During today’s meeting, hokim (governor) of Uzbekistan’s Ferghana region, Shuhrat Ghaniyev, harshly criticized residents of the Tashlaq district and promised to prohibit the district residents from performing Hajj, according to Ferghana new agency. 

“Is it possible that young men aged 20 to 22 will continue traveling in search of better employment opportunities? What do their parents say?  Are they really deaf?” the governor was questioning.  “Nobody from Tashlaq will go to Hajj,” Ghaniyev said, using foul language, according to Ferghana.ru.  

Fifty-two Uzbek nationals, including 16 residents of the Tashlaq district, were killed on January 18 after a bus they were travelling in caught fire in Kazakhstan's north-western Aktobe.  Only five passengers managed to escape the burning vehicle.  The accident reportedly happened at 10:30 local time in the Irgiz district of Aktobe region.

Later on the day of the fire, the Kazakh Ministry for Investments and Development stated the bus was a 29-year-old Setra with an expired technical safety certificate and no license to transport passengers.  

Kazakh media reports say the bus is thought to have been carrying Uzbek citizens to or from Russia along the Samara-Shymkent route.

The route, which is about 2,200 kilometers long, is frequently used by Uzbek labor migrants travelling to the Russian for seasonal work.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said the bus fire accident was the evidence of lack of conditions for employment inside the country.  “People are forced to seek better employment opportunities in other countries because we have not created conditions for them,” the president said.