Further to Saudi Arabia’s announcement that “very limited number” of people will be allowed to perform Haj this year due to the coronavirus, the government on Tuesday decided to refund the application money of pilgrims without any deduction.
“We have decided that Haj pilgrims from India will not be sent to Saudi Arabia for Haj 2020. Application money of more than 2.3 lakh pilgrims will be returned without cancellation deductions through direct transfer,” said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Saudi Arabia said that only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the haj. The government, however, did not specify how many people would be permitted to take part.
“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings,” the ministry that oversees pilgrimages said in a statement said yesterday.
The annual pilgrimage, which is set to begin this year at the end of July, traditionally draws around 2 million Muslims from around the world for five intense days of worship and rituals in Mecca.
Saudi Arabia has never canceled the hajj in the nearly 90 years since the nation’s establishment.