Senior Congress leader Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan has written a letter to the Saudi Arabian Consul General asking the Saudi government to reduce airfare and visa fees for Muslim pilgrims travelling to perform Umrah. Khan, who has been Maharashtra Minority Affairs minister in the past, in his letter mentioned that the Saudi government had hiked airfare for the economy class from Rs 35,000 to Rs 52,000 and had fixed visa charges, for second time pilgrims, at Rs 35,000. These hikes, he said, were affecting pilgrims and was making them disheartened.
“Both airfare and visa fees directly affect Indian pilgrims as majority of them are either poor or are from the the middle income group,” Khan said in his letter. “Indian Muslims are disheartened at having to bear an extra amount of approximately Rs 68,000. Due to this, several pilgrims may not be able to perform one of the holy rituals of Islam,” Khan said. Khan urged the Saudi Arabian government to seriously consider the request of Indian Muslims. “I have demanded that the Saudi government reduce the airfare and visa fees,” Khan told reporters here.