No cut in departure points for Haj pilgrims, says govt

FPJ BureauUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:51 AM IST
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But, the govt is going to implement other key recommendations of the panel like abolishing subsidy for Haj pilgrims and allowing women over 45 years of age to travel in a group of at least four without an accompanying male.

New Delhi : The Government has decided not to reduce 21 points for operation of flight for the Haj pilgrims, ignoring recommendation of  5-member expert panel to reduce them to just nine cities.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government decided to continue with the same number of departure points to address the concern of the state governments and the pilgrims.

“States such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had written to us requesting the changes not be made for the next Haj in 2018 as they would need time to prepare,” Naqvi said.

He said the government is, however, going to implement other key recommendations of the panel like abolishing subsidy for Haj pilgrims and allowing women over 45 years of age to travel in a group of at least four without an accompanying male.

Those in the Haj committee, however, said it would depend on the Saudi Arabia to allow women’s groups without a male member.

The panel was set up by the Minority Affairs Ministry with Afzal Amanullah, a retired IAS officer who has been the counsel general of India in Jedda, as its chairman and retired Bombay High Court S S Parkar as one of the members.

It also recommended amendment in the Haj Committee Act to include Umra and Ziyarat to Syria, Iran, Iraq and Jordan and continuation of the the 2-member Haj Goodwill Delegation to oversee facilities to the pilgrims.

One of the recommendations is to regulate the tour operators who are allowed to take pilgrims for the Haj, requiring them to collect money for full package only through the bank accounts.

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