The Muslim community in the port town are upset after Dabolim Airport was recently removed as embarkation point for the Haj Pilgrimage.
Social worker Riyaz Qadri said Dabolim airport catered to Muslims not only from Goa but also the from neighbourhood states as well.
“Due to Covid, many Muslims could not undertake the Haj Pilgrimage in 2020, but the good thing is that people will get a chance to undertake this pilgrimage next year. However, what has upset us is the cancellation of Dabolim airport as the embarkation point. Dabolim airport had been an embarkation point for the Haj Pilgrimage for several years,” said Qadri.
“Around 70% people undertaking the Haj Pilgrimage are senior citizens and will be inconvenienced as they will have to go all the way to Mumbai, which is the embarkation point for Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli.”
“Earlier, flights leaving from Goa for the Haj Pilgrimage would also include people from Karwar, Belagavi and Bhatkal areas in neighbouring Karnataka.”
“We request the State government to take up this issue with the Centre and luckily, we also have a Goan who is the Chairman of All India Haj Committee who can push the issue so that Goa continues to remain the embarkation point for Haj Pilgrimage,” said Qadri.
NCP Minority Affairs President Nazir Khan said Goa should continue to remain an embarkation point because around 600 pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia for the Haj Pilgrimage since the last several years.
“I will convey this to with NCP State Party President Jose Philip D’Souza so that the matter can be taken up with NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar, when he arrives in Goa on November 22,” said Khan.
“We had been demanding the Haj House near the Dabolim Airport since the last 10 years, so that good facilities like accommodation and food could be offered to pilgrims arriving from Karwar, Sawantwadi, Belagavi and other places in neighbouring states to undertake the Haj Pilgrimage from Goa.”
“This demand was never taken up though we were told a plot has been identified near Sancoale and now, the removal of Dabolim Airport as an embarkation point is yet another cause of concern for elderly Muslims undertaking this pilgrimage,” said Khan.
“Why should hundreds of senior citizens move to Mumbai amid the pandemic? There had been a quota of around 600-odd pilgrims leaving from Dabolim airport, so why should it change now?”
“Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should take up this issue with their Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and retain Dabolim Airport as the embarkation point,” said Khan.
In a major setback to the Muslim community in and around the State, Dabolim airport will no longer be an embarkation point for Haj 2021.
The was stated by Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi while announcing Haj 2021 with significant changes keeping in view the Corona pandemic.
While announcing Haj 2021 at Haj House, Mumbai on November 7, Naqvi said national-international Protocol Guidelines due to Pandemic Position will be implemented and followed strictly during the Haj 2021. The last date of applying for Haj 2021 is December 10 and people can apply online, offline and through Haj Mobile App.
Keeping in view the pandemic position and feedback received from Air India and other agencies, Naqvi said embarkation points for Haj 2021 have been reduced to 10.
Earlier, there were 21 Haj embarkation points across the country. For Haj 2021, the 10 embarkation points are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar.
The Mumbai embarkation point will now cover Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
Earlier, Muslims from Goa and neighbouring areas of Belagavi and Karwar in Karnataka and Sawantwadi and Kolhapur in Maharashtra would leave from the Dabolim airport for their Haj pilgrimage.