By Special Correspondent
Mumbai: The calendar for Hajj 2021 was announced on Saturday with significant changes keeping in view the Corona pandemic and the online application process for this started today. While announcing this at the Haj Committee of India headquarter at Haj House in Mumbai, Union Minority Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that National-International Protocol Guidelines due to Pandemic will be implemented and followed strictly during the Haj 2021.
Naqvi said that Haj 2021 is scheduled for June-July 2021, and the entire Haj process is being held according to the necessary guidelines issued by the Saudi Arabia Government and the Government of India in view of Corona Pandemic to ensure health and well-being of the people in India and Saudi Arabia. The Haj 2021 process has been chalked out after deliberations among Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Haj Committee of India, Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia and India’s Consul General in Jeddah and other agencies keeping in view all aspects of the pandemic challenges.
The arrangements for Haj 2021 have been made under special circumstances with special norms, rules and regulations, eligibility criteria, age restrictions, health and fitness requirements and other relevant conditions of the Saudi Arabia Government amid the Corona pandemic.
Naqvi said that the entire Haj travel process has been done with significant changes in view of the pandemic. These include accommodation, period of stay of pilgrims, transportation, health and other facilities both in India and Saudi Arabia.
All the necessary guidelines for Haj 2021 amid Pandemic position from the Saudi Arabia Government will be implemented strictly. There may be changes in age criteria for performing Hajj due to the Corona pandemic. Each pilgrim will have to undergo Corona test 72 hours before Hajj journey as per prevailing international air travel protocol. Each pilgrim will have to submit a PCR test certificate issued by an approved laboratory with a negative result before journey to Saudi Arabia.
Keeping in view the Pandemic position and feedback received from Air India and other agencies, embarkation points for Haj 2021 have been reduced to 10, he said.
Earlier, there were 21 Haj embarkation points across the country. For Haj 2021, the 10 embarkation points are- Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar.
Ahmedabad embarkation point will cover entire Gujarat; Bengaluru will cover entire Karnataka; Cochin (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Andaman & Nicobar); Delhi (Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh; Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, western districts of Uttar Pradesh); Guwahati (Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland); Kolkata (West Bengal, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, Bihar); Lucknow (all parts of Uttar Pradesh except western parts); Mumbai (Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli) and Srinagar embarkation point will cover Jammu-Kashmir, Leh-Ladakh-Kargil.
The application filled for Haj 2020 by women under without “Mehram” (male companion) category is valid for Haj 2021 also. Besides new forms are also being accepted from the women, who wants to perform Hajj 2021 without “Mehram”. All the women under “without Mehram” category will be exempted from the lottery system.
The last date of applying for Haj 2021 is 10th December,2020. The people can apply online, offline and through Haj Mobile App.
The Indian pilgrims could not go to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj due to a pandemic threat and the Haj Committee of India has refunded a total amount of Rs 2,100 crore to 1.23 lakh pilgrims. Saudi Arabia has also refunded around Rs 100 crore to pilgrims for Haj 2018-19.
As an average around two lakh Indians go for the Haj pilgrimage every year through Haj committee and private tour operators.
Royal Vice Consul General of Saudi Arabia in Mumbai, Mohammad Abdul Karim Al-Enazi; senior officials of the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs; Haj Committee of India CEO M. A. Khan and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.