For more More than one and a half lakh Haji reach to Saudi Arabia from India. Out of the 1.20 lakhs through Hajj Committee and the rest from the tour operators. This year, these Hajis who have gone on Haj have not only completed their paperwork but have also deposited huge amount as installment. Probably the situation of the corona virus spread in the country and the world has come amidst the dispatch of the Hajis starting in the month of June. Given the current situation, it cannot be denied that these conditions will be normal in the next few months. If the situation does not improve, the Saudi Arabian government may continue to ban the influx of foreign nationals on Haj pilgrimage, citing past cases.
Hajis going on Hajj with private tour operators may get an offer to go on Hajj next year instead of directly this year. But the problem of those going on Hajj pilgrimage through the Hajj Committee is that their name is hardly got through lottery. In such a situation, it can be difficult to decide whether or not you will get a chance to go to Hajj without joining the lottery or without waiting list next year. The reason is that next year there will be a new application process again. Most of the people who have come back to India found infected with the virus. A large number of these people are also those who have returned from Umrah journey in the last few months. Many of these people have been found positive, while some have died. Even with any condition, Saudi Arabia calls Haji in controlled numbers even then India may not allow Hajis to travel. It is possible that Saudi Arabia should not conduct Haj. India’s air service and Hajj Committee earn a lot from the Indian Hajis, but still, India will not send its Hajis on Hajj this year.
Hajis from India and pilgrims going to Umrah had identified many new problems from the year 2020 but due to the Corona epidemic, it could not be discussed. Yet for the Muslims of India, till now the problem was more systemic or ideological, from this year this problem is going to be related to economic and red-tapism.
Mufti A H Quadri (Board Member of Harmain Watch From India) On normal days, Saudi Airlines used to give a return ticket to Jeddah from India for $250, but for Umrah, the same fare has been increased from $250 to $500 to $700.
Similarly, during the Hajj days, Saudi Airlines used to charge $900 for a ticket from pilgrims. To reach Medina from Mecca, 30 to 40 riyals are taken on normal days, but on Hajj days the same fare is increased to 180 riyals. Similarly, Saudi Airlines takes 140 riyals to 180 riyals from Jeddah to Medina by flight, but on Hajj days it is also increased from 450 riyals to 500 riyals.
Similarly, on a normal day, the visa fee takes Saudi Consulate from $300 to $500 and for Hajj Visa it is $700to $1000 taking from the Saudi Consulate. This is the sheer strength of the Saudi government. In this way, the Saudi government has made the pilgrimage very expensive and posed an economic problem to those going for Hajj.
Not every Haji is rich enough to afford such a huge expenditure. Apart from this, many poor people go to Hajj and pilgrimage for a long time by collecting pie, but the Saudi government does not care about these poor people.
Ever since Hajj Committees have started their records online, Hajis and pilgrims visiting Umrah with little knowledge of the Internet and English have been finding it difficult. Not only this, but the Saudi Arabian government has also started an online service for visas. For those who wanted to go on Hajj without Hajj Committee or agent, online service is becoming both a boon and a curse. There is also doubt among the Hajis regarding the visa whether they will get a visa or not.
Mufti Khalid Ayyub Misbahi (Board Member of Al haramain Watch from India) said that Hajj pilgrims who have gone to Hajj from India are facing a lot of difficulties to get a Sim card in Saudi Arabia. Central Hajj Committee arranged for a mobile sim like every year before, Indian Hajj pilgrims would not have any problem in getting a sim card earlier. It is being provided from the Indian Embassy in Saudi. Now Hajis are getting a sim card after providing a photo, fingerprint along with a photocopy of passport. Long lines of Hajj pilgrims have been started on Indian Embassy since 2016 for taking sim card. Due to difficulties in getting sim, Hajj pilgrims are not able to give information to family members. At the same time, people from India are not able to know the well being of their Haji. Since the year 2015, travelers going on Hajj pilgrimage were given sim card in India, but this time the Saudi Arabian government has changed the rules for security reasons.
Decreasing participation of State Hajj Committees
The participation of the State Hajj Committees is decreasing. The government of Saudi Arabia first cut the number of people going to the Hajj delegation. Later, the Government of India also made it short. This is followed by the most affected state Hajj Committees. In July 2019, Aurangzeb, chairman of the Haryana Hajj Committee, met the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to India, along with Central Hajj Committee Chairman Mahbub Ali Kaiser. He had expressed his indignation that the participation of the State Hajj Committees had been reduced to such an extent that state committees left only to get people to fill up forms by setting up online camps. He also said that the people of the State Hajj Committees were not being taken in the delegation. Because of this, the states resident Hajis during Hajj, are not being taken good care of. Their intention was to take better care of the Hajis by the State Hajj Committees on the basis of language and culture if their officials present.