India is likely to be permitted to send 5,000 pilgrims for this year's Haj in Saudi Arabia amid tight regulations in view of the second wave of the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has announced that only 60,000 people will be allowed for Haj with COVID-19 protocol. When 45,000 of them will be from other countries, 15,000 will be domestic pilgrims.
Central Haj Committee officials indicated that they expected about 5,000 pilgrims from India. However, State-wise breakup of the pilgrims could not be given.
“It will be too early to say how many pilgrims from Kerala will be allowed this year. Last year, no pilgrim from our country could go as the Haj was curtailed in view of the pandemic. This time we are waiting with our fingers crossed,” said Kerala State Haj Committee Chairman C. Mohammed Faizy.
Haj Committee officials said that there were confusions about the inclusion of the Indians working in Saudi Arabia in the domestic 15,000.
Saudi Arabian government used to allow one in 1,000 Muslim from India to perform Haj every year. Accordingly, 1.75 lakh pilgrims from India had performed Haj in 2019. About 11,000 of them were from Kerala under the government’s supervision. As many as 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world had gathered in Makkah in 2019.
Haj Committee officials said that Saudi Arabia this year would not permit people below 18 years of age and above 60 years of age.
“Only those who are in good health will be allowed,” said Mr. Faizy.
Those who were hospitalised for any disease in the last six months will not be allowed for Haj.
Saudi Arabia has cautioned the countries about the new norms to be maintained during the Haj. Pilgrims will have to maintain two metre physical distancing. All carpets will be removed from Masjid Al Haram and other prominent sites of the pilgrimage in view of the pandemic.