Lucknow, April 11 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh has asked the central government to expedite the process of issuing passports to Muslims seeking to go for Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
In a letter written to union External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, state minister Mohammad Azam Khan said his ministry should direct the regional passport offices in Uttar Pradesh to ensure timely issuance of passports to Haj pilgrims.
Khan pointed out that thousands of Muslims living in the state's countryside go on Haj every year and have to go through a tedious and long process to get the Haj passport. The minister also complained that a number of applications for passports were pending in the passport offices in Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Bareilly.
The minister also mooted a 'tatkal passport' scheme for such Haj pilgrims so as to ensure that even last minute additions and poor people were able to undertake the pilgrimage.
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