Hajj pilgrims’ selection to be based on Covid-appropriate criteria

Hajj pilgrims’ selection to be based on Covid-appropriate criteria
Representational Pic

New Delhi, Oct 22: The selection process for pilgrims for Hajj 2022 will be based on several Covid-appropriate criteria, including complete inoculation with all required doses, and in accordance with the guidelines set by the governments of India and Saudi Arabia, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Friday.

After chairing a Haj jreview meeting here, Naqvi,

who is the Union Minister for Minority Affairs, said the official announcement of Haj 2022 will be made in the first week of November and along with that the process of online application for Haj will also be started.

He said the Digital Health Card, "E-MASIHA" health facility and "E-luggage pre-tagging", providing all information regarding accommodation/transportation in Makkah-Madina, will be provided to all the Hajj pilgrims.

Preparations for Hajj 2022 have been started keeping in mind the health and Covid protocols of the Saudi Arabian government and the Government of India, he said.

The entire Hajj 2022 process in India will be 100 per cent digital, Naqvi stressed, underlining that India sends the second largest number of Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia after Indonesia.

Naqvi said that arrangements for special training for Hajj 2022 regarding Covid protocols and health and hygiene are being made in India and Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrims.

National and international protocol guidelines due to pandemic position will be implemented and followed strictly during Hajj 2022, he said.

Naqvi said the entire Hajj 2022 process will be held according to the necessary guidelines to be issued by the governments of India and Saudi Arabia in view of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure health and well-being of the people of the two countries.

Hajj 2022 process is being chalked out after deliberations between the 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 challenges posed by the pandemic, a statement said.

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 pandemic.

Naqvi said the entire travel process for Hajj 2022 is being planned with significant and important changes in view of the pandemic and its effect.

These include accommodation, period of stay of pilgrims, transportation, health and other facilities both in India and Saudi Arabia.

Naqvi said more than 3,000 women had applied for Hajj 2020 and 2021 under without "Mehram" (male companion) category and their applications will be eligible for Hajj 2022 also if they want to go to the pilgrimage next year.

Other women can also apply for Hajj 2022 under without "Mehram" category, he added

All the women under without "Mehram" category will be exempted from the lottery system, Naqvi said.

The Haj Review Meeting was attended by senior officials including Minority Affairs Ministry Secretary Renuka Kumar, Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed, Joint Secretary of Minority Affairs Ministry Nigar Fatima, External Affairs Joint Secretary (Gulf) Vipul, Civil Aviation Ministry Joint Secretary S K Sharma, Health Ministry Deputy DG P K Sen, Hajj Committee of India CEO Mohd Yakoob Shekha; India's Consul General in Jeddah Shahid Alam and Air India Executive Director Melwin D'Silva.

Expected Hajj quota for 2022, Hajj 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 Hajj review meeting, the statement said.

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