Following Saudi Arabia's announcement to allow "very limited number" of people to perform Hajj this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government on Tuesday said that the application money of pilgrims will be refunded without any deduction.
"We have honoured Saudi's decision and keeping in mind health and well-being of people, it has been decided that Indian Muslims will not go for Hajj," Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
"Application money of more than 2.3 lakh pilgrims will be returned without cancellation deductions through direct transfer,” he further said.
The Central Haj Committee of India began refunding the amount deposited by the Hajj Pilgrims following the announcement, ex-acting chairman of the committee Jina Shaikh said, adding that over 50 per cent pilgrims from Goa recently received a refund amount of Rs 51,000.
Shaikh further said that the pilgrims selected for this year's Hajj will not be considered for next year without lottery systems. The pilgrims will have to refill the application next year, except Muslim women who were going to perform Hajj without a male companion (Mehram).
"It's tough for women to get together and make arrangements as they go in groups without Mehram. So, we have decided they will be allowed to go on Hajj next year if they want to," Naqvi said.
An ex-member of the committee said whether this year's pilgrims will be eligible for next year is a policy matter and the Haj Review Committee will take the final call.
Saudi Arabia said late on Monday that only a very limited number of pilgrims would be allowed to perform the hajj in Mecca from among residents of various nationalities already inside the country.
The kingdom's Hajj Minster Muhammad Benten said it will be a “small and very limited” numbers of pilgrims to ensure social distancing and crowd control amid the virus outbreak.