Passport compulsory for Haj pilgrims: Tharoor

Thiruvananthapuram: Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Monday wanted those planning to go for Haj to apply for passports as Saudi Arabia government had this time made it compulsory that only persons with valid travel documents would be allowed.

s Earlier, Haj pilgrims used to go to Saudi Arabia with a special pilgrims permit, but this time, passport has been made compulsory along with a vaccination certificate against viral fever, Tharoor told reporters after a meeting of passport officers of southern and western regions here.

Out of the 1.10 lakh persons already selected for performing Haj by various state haj committees, only 20,000 persons have applied for passports.

Though, the last date for receiving the applications for 'Special Passports for Haj pilgrims' expired on July 31, Tharoor asked those who have not submitted applications to do so at the earliest. The special passport is valid for eight months.

The Saudi government had this time discouraged persons above the age of 65, children below 12 years and pregnant women from undertaking Haj pilgrimage, he added.

Bureau Report