“We had already paid Air India Rs 160 Crore for the air fare of the pilgrims. The Building Selection committee (BSC), which finalises the places where the Indian pilgrims will stay during the month long visit, had made three trips to Saudi Arabia. We had also made provisions for medicines for the pilgrims. The vaccination arrangements had also been made here,” Naqvi told ET.
The ministry had also selected around 600 Haj assistants. “This time more than 200 women were to go as Haj assistants,” Naqvi said.
On Monday night, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi received a phone call from Haj and Umrah Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten conveying that India should avoid sending Haj pilgrims due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Indonesia, Malaysia and a few African countries having sizable Muslim population had unilaterally decided about a month back that they will not send pilgrims for Haj, India was hopeful till the last moment.
2.13 lakh Indian Muslims had applied for Haj this year. The minority affairs ministry has begun the process of refunding their money through direct benefit transfer.
The minority affairs ministry has decided that the women pilgrims who were to go for Haj without Mehram (male companion) will not have to apply again in 2021. The minister said around 2300 women had applied this year for Haj without Mehram. Their money will be refunded along with other applicants of this year.
“Other than these 2300 women, fresh women applicants who wish to travel alone (without a male companion) will also be allowed next year,” Naqvi said.
The Narendra Modi government had made this provision in 2018, allowing women to travel alone for Haj. This practice is prevalent in many other countries but was not allowed in India. 3040 Indian women have performed Haj without Mehram since 2018.
Saudi Arabia had issued a statement on Monday night saying “a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia would be able to perform Haj”. This has been done to ensure Haj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols, the statement said.
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7 Comments on this Story
Obeyer 173 days ago
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is a Muslim in a BJP government. What else did the Muslims expect from him? BJP did not give even a single ticket to a Muslim candidate in the last general election.
Lionel Rodrigues217 days ago
its interesting to see that the Muslims have brains to stop such mass gathering but here in India ..... some people feel that going to SC was important as God will only visit again in 12 yrs...... jokers..... and then there are people on here talking about Muslims obsession with religion.....
Amalesh Bhattacharya217 days ago
the revenue loss per traveler is near 1 lakh per hagi never mind armaco will compensate with investing in ril