– globalbihari bureau
New Delhi: In view of Corona pandemic, Saudi Arabia does not want any Haj pilgrims from India this year and has communicated to this effect to Indian Government.
Union Minority Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Indian government will “honour” the Saudi Arabian government suggestion. “I had received a phone call from Haj & Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten yesterday and the Saudi Arabia Minister suggested not to send Haj pilgrims from India to Haj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) due to Corona pandemic. We discussed the matter at length and agreed that the entire world is facing challenges of Corona pandemic and Saudi Arabia has also been affected by the pandemic. Because of serious challenges of Corona pandemic and keeping in mind the health and well-being of the people, it has been decided that Muslims from India will not go to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj,” Naqvi told media persons here on Tuesday.
It may be mentioned that on Monday night, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Haj and Umrah had issued a statement which said: “Due to Corona pandemic and the risks of Coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings, it has been decided that Haj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) will be held whereby a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia, would be able to perform it. This decision is taken to ensure Haj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols.”
Naqvi informed that 2 lakh 13,000 applications had been received for Haj this year. “The process has been started today to immediately refund full amount of money deposited by the applicants without any deduction. The money will be refunded through online DBT mode into bank accounts of the applicants,” he said.
Incidentally this year, more than 2300 women too had applied to perform Haj without Mehram. “These women will be allowed to go to Haj 2021 on the basis of their application for Haj 2020 only. Besides, women who file new application, will also be allowed to go to Haj next year,” Naqvi said.
Naqvi said that a total of 2 lakh Indian Muslims had performed Haj in 2019. These pilgrims included 50 per cent women. A total of 3,040 women have performed Haj after the Government ensured Muslim women can perform Haj without Mehram (male companion) in 2018.