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Saudi approves India to ferry Haj pilgrims via sea route: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Saudi Arabia has given its nod to India’s plan to revive the option of ferrying Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in a statement on Monday, reports PTI.

Naqvi made the comment after the signing of annual Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia in Mecca. “Saudi Arabia has given its nod to revive the option of sending pilgrims by sea route…Officials from both the countries will discuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years,” Naqvi said according to the statement.

Naqvi said that sending pilgrims through ships would help cut down travel expenses significantly and added that it would be a “revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision”. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways existed earlier too, but was stopped from 1995. Naqvi also said that for the first time   around 1,300 women from India will go on Haj without a ‘Mehram’ (male companion)

“Separate accommodation and transport have been arranged for these woman Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and woman Haj assistants will be deployed for their assistance,” he added.

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