Haj 2020, which will see the arrival of at least 2 lakh Indian pilgrims, has been made 100 per cent digital for applicants in the country. By Tanvi Jain 

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi recently announced that this year around 2 lakh Indians will be departing for Haj pilgrimage, adding, that the application process will be 100 per cent digital.  

Last year, Indian pilgrims arriving at Haj were second highest in number after Indonesia. This time at least 20,000 Indians are estimated to leave from Mumbai alone between July 28 to August 2. Per person cost for Haj is around INR 67,000. 

Of the total 2 lakh Indian Muslims, while 1.23 lakh will reportedly go through the Haj Committee of India, the rest will go through Haj Group Organisers. 

Moreover, as many as 2,100 women have also been selected to go on Haj without a male companion (mehram). Two years ago, the Saudi Government had also allowed Muslim women over 45 years of age to go on the pilgrimage without a male companion and in a group of four. 

Praising the move, Naqvi termed it as ease of doing Haj, adding that the online application facility has not only removed the middlemen but has also made going on Haj, more affordable. 

Apart from the online application, there is also a facility of e-visa, Haj mobile app called E-Masiha (Medical Assistance System for Indian Hajis Abroad), e-luggage pre-tagging, the information in India about accommodation and transportation in Mecca-Medina, and health facilities. 

E-Masiha was launched by the Consulate in Haj 2018, in order to create and maintain comprehensive health database of Indian Hajis and manage medical stock accordingly. 

Last month, President Ram Nath Kovind in his Parliament speech ahead of the budget had also declared India to be the first country to make the entire process of Haj pilgrimage digital.

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