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Haj pilgrims won't require police verification for passports

     New Delhi: In a bid to facilitate the issuance of temporary passports to Haj pilgrims, the UPA Government has decided to do away with police verification process. On Monday, the Haj Committee of India said the Government's decision to this effect came after two meetings in Delhi and Bangalore on June 8 and 10 June, chaired by N Ravi, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs. "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," said Mohd Owais, the Chief Executive Officer of Haj Committee of India, in the national capital. The issue of Haj passport for Saudi Arabia will be valid for eight months only and this will not be renewed. However, Owais said those pilgrims who would like to make their Haj passports a permanent one later, will have to go through police verification. Owais also said that pilgrims, who have already submitted their application forms for passport and their police verification pending till 20th June, will be issued passports. "If there is no adverse reports, pilgrims will get their passports," Owais said, adding the Haj Committee has received around 3.57 lakh applications this year from devotees who want to perform Haj this year. "The Haj Committee has a quota of 1.04 lakh while the private sector has a quota of 45,000. The rest is that of government quota," Owais said. The decision to issue passports came in the backdrop of Saudi Arabia insisting that the pilgrims should carry international passports. "We had meetings with them. But they said they wanted a uniform pattern and said they cannot change the deadline in this regard for India alone," Owais said.
-June 29, 2009


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