Police check waived for Haj passports


New Delhi : The union government in an attempt to ease the process of issuance of temporary passports to Haj pilgrims has decided to waive police verification involved in the process.

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The Haj Committee of India Monday said the decision was taken after two high level meetings.

“The police verification for Haj pilgrims has been waived off. The decision was taken keeping in mind the difficulties in issuance of passports to pilgrims in a short span of two months,” Mohammed Owais, the chief executive officer of Haj Committee of India, told reporters here.

The Haj passport issued for Saudi Arabia will have a validity for eight months only and this will not be renewed.

Owais said pilgrims who will like to convert these Haj passports into permanent ones will have to go through police verification later.

He said those pilgrims who have already submitted their application forms for passport and their police verification was pending till June 20 will be issued passports.

“If there is no adverse reports, pilgrims will get their passports,” Owais said.

The intending Indian Haj pilgrims will have to pay more for their stay during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia due to increase in exchange rate of riyal and the cost escalation in accommodation.

“One Saudi riyal was equal to Rs.11.64 in 2008 while it is Rs.13.31 this year. The cost of accommodation in Saudi Arabia has also gone up,” Owais said.

This year the Saudi government will allow 160,000 pilgrims from India. Out of these, the Haj Committee of India will send 104,000 and about 45,000 by private tour operators.

The Haj Committee of India has received 357,000 applications so far this year, Owais said. Last year, 123,000 Muslims performed the pilgrimage.