Srinagar: Hajj pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir may soon be able to opt for travelling to the Holy City of Mecca through the sea route. The practice of going to the sacred pilgrimage through the sea route is being planned to be revived after a gap of 23 years.
“The stat government is in talks with the GOI to revive the option of sending pilgrims to Hajj via the sea route to Jeddah, after the gap of more than 23 years,” Minister for Hajj and Auqaf, Farooq Andrabi said.
He said that the government is holding meetings with the central government as it is expected that the Hajj pilgrims will also be started via the sea route.
“We are holding talks with the central government over the issue and next meeting in this regard is expected to be held soon. The meeting will finalize the details of the procedure related to sending the JK Hajj piligrims to Saudi Arabi via the sea route,” Andrabi said.
He added that the pilgrims will be given an option about whether they want to travel via air or by through the sea route.
Importantly, the option of ferrying the pilgrims from the coastal city of Mumbai to Jeddah has been considered as the Supreme Court in a 2012 order asked the Centre to abolish by 2022 the airways subsidy offered to Haj pilgrims.
The government of India feels the sea route will help cut down the travel expenses, said an official associated with the process of starting the pilgrimage through the sea route.
The practice of ferrying devotees between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995 on account of M V Akbari, (the ship) which would transport pilgrims, outliving its life span. (KNS)