‘Pilgrim’s safety and facility Centre’s priority’
Srinagar, Nov 20: A day after Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti urged the Centre to provide more facilities to Haj pilgrims in the state during the pilgrimage next year, the Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Monday maintained that the Government of India would do the needful to ensure more facilities for all Hajj Pilgrims of 2018 including those of Jammu and Kashmir.
“There was a remarkable improvement in arrangements of Hajj in the last few years. I believe that there is always room for further improvement. My Ministry is committed to make Hajj arrangements more comfortable, better and cost-effective for the pilgrims including the pilgrims of the Jammu and Kashmir State,” Abbas Naqvi told KNS from New Delhi.
The Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has pleaded for extending more facilities to the Hajj pilgrims of the State during the coming annual pilgrimage.
In her letter to union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Chief Minister has detailed the facilities being provided to Hajj pilgrims at Srinagar embarking point and beyond. She has sought further strengthening of the same in future.
The Chief Minister has said the facility of embarkation at Srinagar saves a lot of time and cost of the pilgrims from the State and sought continuation of the same.
Naqvi further told KNS that his ministry will make sure the better process of hiring of accommodation, transport, catering and other allied facilities. “The government of India would provide all possible support to the state governments including the Jammu and Kashmir government for facilitating the guests of Allah in performing Hajj comfortably and securely,” the minister maintained.
It is to mention here that Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi recently announced the process of Haj 2018.
The minister told KNS that this time the Central Government has announced Haj process one month before in comparison to the last year.
“This will provide enough opportunities for all the concerned agencies to make preparations well in advance so that world class facilities to the Haj pilgrims are ensured. Haj 2018 related process has started and People are applying for Haj 2018 from 15th November,”.
Naqvi said that Haj 2018 will be performed according to the new Haj Policy. “The high-level committee, constituted to frame the new policy, has already submitted its report and Minority Affairs Ministry has been looking into its recommendations. The new Haj policy aims to make Haj pilgrimage more comfortable, smooth and transparent. Pilgrims’ safety and their facilities are our priority,” he said.
Naqvi has further said that government of India has already launched a new Haj Mobile App, based on modern facilities and technology. “This app will make Haj application process easier and comfortable. Applying for Haj, enquiry and information, news and updates and e-payment are main features of Haj Committee of India Mobile App. Application for Haj can be made directly from the app. Registration fees can also be made through this app,” he said.
Naqvi said that the new Haj policy includes maintaining the reservation for people above 70 years age wish to go for Haj and allowing women over 45 years of age in a group of four or more for Haj without a male relative or “Mahram”.
“For the first time, for Haj 2018, details of total expenditure to be incurred by the pilgrims are given in the Haj application form. This is a step towards transparency.
Haj application form for 2018 also contains the embarkation points-wise detailed air fare comparison which will be beneficial for the pilgrims as for the first time they will get option for embarkation points of their own choice,” he said.
Naqvi said that Haj 2017 was very successful and smooth as the Central Government had completed all the necessary preparations well before time in cooperation and coordination with concerned agencies. :
A total of 1,24,940 Haj pilgrims performed Haj 2017 by 454 flights between 24th July to 28th August through Haj Committee of India. About 45,000 pilgrims went through private tour operators. India’s Haj quota for 2017 had been increased significantly by Saudi Arabia Government to 1, 70,025,” he said.
The Union minister added that hajj pilgrims from India went to Saudi Arabia from 21 embarkation points- Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Guwahati, Lucknow, Mangalore, Varanasi, Srinagar, Kolkata, Gaya, Ranchi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Chennai, Cochin, Jaipur, Indore, Hyderabad.From Srinagar 8103 pilgrims went to Hajj in 2017,” he maintained. (KNS)