Following a phone call by Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh Bin Taher Benten to Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi informing him that no international pilgrims will be allowed for Haj due to the COVID-19 pandemic , the Indian government said it would reimburse payments made by Indian pilgrims for the same.
“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),” said Mr. Naqvi in a statement.
He said that the process of immediately refunding (without deductions) the amount deposited by pilgrims for the journey was being initiated. Around 2,13,000 applications had been received for Haj 2020. The money will be refunded through online DBT mode into bank accounts of the applicants.
Of these pilgrims, 50% were women with 3,040 women having performed Haj after the Union government ensured Muslim women can perform Haj without Mehram (male companion) in 2018.
This year too, more than 2,300 women had applied to perform Haj without Mehram. These women pilgrims will be allowed to go to Haj 2021 on the basis of this year’s application. Women pilgrims who file a new application for the journey will also be considered for Haj next year.
Late on Monday, 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.”