Filing of online applications for Haj 2020 begins; AP pilgrims to embark from Vijayawada

Hyderabad: The process for Haj 2020 started on Thursday with the commencement of online application facility. Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state Haj Committees have set up special counters for helping prospective pilgrims in filing applications. Telangana Home Minister, Mohammed Mehmood Ali, formally launched the online service at the Haj House here. At the same time, the AP Deputy Chief Minister Amjad Basha inaugurated the facility in Vijayawada. The last date for filing application is November 10.

Speaking on occasion, Mehmood Ali said that “Qurrah” (draw of lots) for selection of pilgrims would be held in the last week of December. However, pilgrims who are above 70 years and women who are going to Haj without a “mehram” will be exempted from this exercise. They will be selected straightaway. There is a significant relief to pilgrims thanks to the Centre reducing GST for Hajis from 18 per cent to 5 per cent. The pilgrims had faced accommodation issues in Saudi Arabia during the previous Haj. They will be brought to the notice of the Haj Committee of India and steps would be taken to resolve them. This year the government has decided to digitalise all matters concerning Haj and has developed a system to provide e-visa to all pilgrims.

The applications can be filed from the Haj Committee of India website and the Android mobile app as well. The login process is simple and requires only an email ID and password to create an account, explained Mohammed Masiullah Khan, Haj Committee Chairman.

Replying to a question, the Telangana Home Minister said NRC would not be implemented in Telangana. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had already stated this in the Telangana State Assembly. “There is no need for the people to get panicked,” he said. Talking about the presence of Rohingya refugees in the state, Mehmood Ali said that the police was gathering information about them.

New embarkation point

Meanwhile, there is a significant relief to Telangana State Haj Committee which has been looking after the departure of pilgrims from AP. With the Government of India assigning embarkation point status to Vijayawada, pilgrims from AP will now be departing from Vijayawada International Airport, Gannavaram. However, the Telangana Haj Committee still has to take care of pilgrims from a few districts of Karnataka. With the addition of Vijayawada, the number of Haj embarkation points in the country has gone up to 22.

Even after the bifurcation of the state, pilgrims from the neighbouring state were departing from Hyderabad airport. However, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy successfully convinced the Centre to consider Vijayawada as an embarkation point. The issue was raised at the Haj Committee of India conference held recently in Delhi. The event was attended by other senior officials from the ministries of External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Health. India’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed and Haj Committee of India Chairman Sheikh Jinna Nabi were also present at the meeting. Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqi, who chaired the review meeting, announced the granting of embarkation point status to the Vijayawada.

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J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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