India not to send Haj pilgrims this year: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi


India has decided not to send pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year owing to the Corona pandemic, according to the Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Revealing this here today, Naqvi informed he had received a phone call from Haj & Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten yesterday who had suggested not to send Haj pilgrims from India to Haj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) due to Corona pandemic. He said they 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.

Hence, honouring the decision of the Saudi Arabia Government 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 (1441 H/2020 AD) this year.

Naqvi further said that the government has also decided to refund the amount in full paid by 2 lakh 13,000 applicants received for Haj 2020. The process has been started today for the reimbursement. “The money will be deposited into the applicants’ account through online DBT mode without any deduction”, Naqvi said.

The Minister also informed that this year, more than 2300 women 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 a new application will also be allowed to go to Haj next year.

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.

Late last night, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Haj and Umrah issued a statement which says “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.”