New Delhi: The filing of applications for next year's Haj pilgrimage will be completely digital and the process will start from October 10, Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced on Friday.
He also said there will be 22 embarkation points in 2020.
"The new embarkation point to be opened for Haj next year will be at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. So, in Haj 2020, two lakh Indian Muslims will go for Haj from 22 embarkation points across the country," he told reporters.
Naqvi said this after chairing a review meeting organised on the completion of Haj 2019 where he took stock of the preparations for next year's pilgrimage.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from the ministries of External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Health. India's Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausuf Sayeed and Haj Committee of India Chairman Sheikh Jinna Nabi also attended the meeting.
Interacting with the media after the meeting, Naqvi said Haj 2020 will be "100 per cent online" and a system has been developed to provide e-visa to all the pilgrims.
"People can apply online for Haj 2020 from October 10 till November 10. Applications for Haj can also be be filed through a mobile application," Naqvi said.
The minister said Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) can apply on an online portal from November 1 to December 1.
Naqvi said GST on Haj pilgrimage was reduced from 18 per cent to five per cent this year, which ensured that more than Rs 113 crore were saved by the pilgrims during the Haj in 2019.
"Accommodation in Madina had also been taken on 100 Saudi Riyal less in comparison to the last year which resulted in savings of Rs 3,000 per Indian pilgrim," he said.
Naqvi said a record number of 2 lakh Indian Muslims went to Haj this year through more than 500 flights from 21 embarkation points across the country. These pilgrims included about 48 per cent Muslim women.
"A total of 2,340 Muslim women from India also performed Haj this year without 'Mehram' ((husband or a male first blood relation as guardian). For Haj 2020, women who will apply without 'Mehram' will be exempted from the lottery system," he said.
Naqvi said while 1.4 lakh Haj pilgrims went through Haj Committee of India, 60,000 such pilgrims performed the pilgrimage through Haj Group Organisers (HGOs).
"More than 2.67 lakh applications were received for Haj 2019 which included about 1.65 lakh online applications. For Haj 2020, online applications will be encouraged. Haj Committee will also organise awareness programmes in this regard," he said.
Replying to a question, Naqvi assured that people in Kashmir would also be able to apply online easily.