By Special Correspondent
New Delhi: There is good news for those aspiring to perform the coming Hajj as Saudi Arabia has lifted Covid-related restrictions for the foreign Hajj pilgrims from the next Hajj season. The official announcement of Hajj 2022 for the Indian pilgrims is expected to be made in the first week of November and along with that the process of online application for Haj will also be started.
Chairing Hajj Review Meeting in New Delhi on Friday Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the selection process of Hajj pilgrims will be done according to complete vaccination with both the doses and guidelines and criteria to be decided by Indian and Saudi Arabia Governments, keeping in view Corona protocols during the time of Hajj 2022.
He said that preparations for Hajj 2022 have been started keeping in mind the health and corona protocol of Saudi Arabia Government and Government of India. The entire Hajj 2022 process in India will be 100 per cent digital. India sends the second largest number of Hajj pilgrims after Indonesia.
Digital Health Card, “E-MASIHA” health facility and “E-luggage pre-tagging”, providing all information regarding accommodation/transportation in Makkah-Madinah, will be provided to all the Hajj pilgrims.
The Minister said that arrangements for special training for Hajj 2022 regarding Corona protocols and Health and Hygiene are being made in India and Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrims. National-International protocol guidelines due to pandemic position will be implemented and followed strictly during Hajj 2022.
He further stated that the entire Hajj 2022 process will be held according to the necessary guidelines to be 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. Hajj 2022 process is being chalked out after deliberations among Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Hajj 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 Hajj 2022 are being 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.
He said that the entire travel process for Hajj 2022 is being done with significant and important changes in view of the pandemic and its affect. These include accommodation, period of stay of pilgrims, transportation, health and other facilities both in India and Saudi Arabia.
He said that more than 3000 women had applied for Hajj 2020 and 2021 under without “Mahram” (male companion) category. Their applications will be eligible for Hajj 2022 also if they want to go to perform Hajj 2022. Other women can also apply for Hajj 2022 under without “Mahram” category. All the women under without “Mahram” category will be exempted from the lottery system.
The Hajj Review Meeting was attended by Secretary, Minority Affairs Ministry Mrs Renuka Kumar, Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Joint Secretary, Minority Affairs Ministry Ms Nigar Fatima, Joint Secretary (Gulf), External Affairs Ministry Vipul, Joint Secretary, Civil Aviation Ministry S K Sharma, Deputy DG, Health Ministry P K Sen, CEO, Hajj Committee of India Mohd Yakoob Shekha, India’s Consul General in Jeddah Shahid Alam, Air India Executive Director Melwin D’Silva and other officials.
Expected Hajj quota for 2022, Haj Air Charter, Corona protocols, vaccination, medical facilities, health card, transport in Saudi Arabia, Hajj deputation of officials, Khadim Ul Hujjaj, Hajj training, Embarkation Points and other issues were discussed in the meeting.