Jammu and Kashmir is set to see a decrease in the number of pilgrims undertaking the Holy journey as at least 2000 Haj aspirants have become non-eligible for this year’s holy pilgrimage due to a particular age bar set by the Saudi regime.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah—Makah on Saturday announced that only one million pilgrims both foreign and domestic, will perform Hajj this year. The ministry of Saudi added, that this year’s Hajj is open to those who are under 65 years of age, and in addition, they must have received the main Covid-19 vaccinations approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health.
“Pilgrims coming from outside the Kindgom are required to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result from a test performed within 72 hours of the time of departure to the Kingdom,” reads the Hajj announcement note issued by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah—Makah.
Talking to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), State Executive Hajj Officer Dr Abdul Salaam Mir said that almost 12000 applications were received by the Hajj office J&K this year. “Now that the Saudi government has set an age-limit of below 65-years, some 2000 pilgrims won’t be eligible for the Hajj this year,” he said. “We have almost 2000 applications from the pilgrims who are above 65 years.”
He added that most probably the remaining 10,000 pilgrims may all become entitled for the Hajj 2022 depending on the final quota distribution by the Government of India. “Things will become clearer within a couple of days,” Dr Mir said.
He said from this end, all the preparations have been made and now that the announcement has been made for Hajj 2022, they will speed up the further process that includes submitting money, passport and other relevant documents.
J&K Hajj aspirants were in a fix as the Saudi government had been delaying the quota announcement. Hajj2022 will take place after two years (2020, 2021) as it remained suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Upbeat over the announcement, Ghulam Qadir Rather, 63, a Hajj aspirant, told KNO said that he was feeling relieved over the Saudi government’s decision of allowing the Hajj this year. “The J&K government should made clear whether it will allow all the aspirants aged up to 65 or go for draws,” he said.