Saudi Arabia announces resumption of Umrah from Oct 4 with limited pilgrims

News Network
September 23, 2020

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Jeddah, Sept 23: Saudi Arabia has announced the gradual resumption of Umrah and visits to the Two Holy Mosques with a limited number of pilgrims, starting from Oct. 4, 2020, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday citing a source at the Ministry of Interior.

The ministry source said that based on the reports of the competent authorities regarding coronavirus developments and in response to the aspirations of many Muslims at home and abroad to perform Umrah, and based on the leadership's keenness on the health and safety of the visitors the Two Holy Mosques, a royal approval has been given to allow the performance of Umrah and visits to the Two Holy Mosques gradually while taking the necessary health preventative measures.

In the first phase, citizens and expatriates from within the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah at a capacity of 30 percent from Oct. 4 that translates to 6,000 pilgrims per day following the health precautionary measures of the Grand Mosque.

In the second phase, citizens and expatriates inside the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah, visit the Rawdah in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and pray in Two Holy Mosques, starting from Oct. 18, with a 75 percent capacity limit that is equivalent of nearly 15,000 pilgrims per day and 40,000 worshippers per day following the health precautionary measures for the Grand Mosque, as well as 75 percent of the capacity in line with the health precautionary measures for the Rawdah in the Prophet’s Mosque.

In the third phase, pilgrims from abroad would be allowed to perform Umrah as of Nov. 1 with a full capacity of 20,000 pilgrims and 60,000 worshipers per day and it will continue until the official end of the coronavirus pandemic or the official announcement that the danger is over. The arrival of Umrah performers and visitors from outside the Kingdom shall be gradual from the countries that are free from health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic, the source added.

The fourth phase will allow the performance of Umrah, visit and prayers by citizens and expatriates from inside and outside the Kingdom, at 100 percent of the normal capacity of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque, when the competent authority decides that the risks of the pandemic has disappeared.

Meanwhile, the entry of pilgrims, worshipers and visitors shall be regulated through the application (Etamarna), which will be launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, with the aim of implementing the health standards and controls approved by the Ministry of Health and the competent authorities.

The source called upon pilgrims, worshipers and visitors to adhere to preventive measures and apply the health instructions and requirements, including wearing face masks, keeping a safe distance, and avoiding a physical contact.

The source affirmed the Kingdom's keenness to enable the pilgrims from inside and outside the Kingdom to perform the rituals in a safe and healthy manner fulfilling the preventative requirements and spatial distancing in order to ensure human safety and protection from the threats of this pandemic, and achieve the objectives of the Islamic law in preserving human lives.

The source explained that the stages announced in this statement will be subjected to continuous evaluation, according to the developments of the pandemic.

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News Network
October 21,2020

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Ballari, Oct 21: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in four districts of the state and said additional funds would be released after holding discussions with officials.

"Already funds have been allotted to the flood-affected districts and more will be released after holding a meeting with the officials," the Chief Minister said.

He was talking to reporters before boarding a special plane from Jindal Vijayanagar Airport here to conduct an aerial survey of Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Raichur and Yadgir districts, to assess the damage caused by the heavy rains last week.

Yediyurappa was accompanied by Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chauhan and the Commissioner of Karnataka Disaster Management Authority Manoj Rajan during the aerial survey.

River Bhima, a tributary of river Krishna that originates in Maharashtra, had wreaked havoc in Vijayapura, Kalaburagi, Yadgir and Raichur districts due to the torrential rain in the catchment areas for the past 10 days.

Yediyurappa said heavy rains and floods have caused inundation in several villages in Kalaburagi and Vijayapura districts, damaging crops and houses.

To a query, the chief minister said a central team would carry out an inspection after the state government submits the complete report, which may take at least four to five days.

He, however, maintained that the Prime Minister was aware of the prevailing situation and has assured him of assistance.

Later talking to reporters at Kalaburagi after the aerial survey, the Chief Minister said he cannot make any fresh announcements due to the model code of conduct in place in the state in the wake of MLC elections and bypolls to two assembly segments -- Sira in Tumakuru and Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru urban district.

He said he has sought a detailed report from officials during a meeting with them and gave them necessary directions.

The Chief Minister said he has asked the officials to supply drinking water in Kalaburagi, the district headquarter town, as the water pipeline has been damaged.

"We will make sure that there is no water scarcity for which we will hire more tankers. Electricity and water will be restored and all the roads will be repaired.

All the other important services will be restored in the next few days," the Chief Minister said.

Yediyurappa said he had asked the officials to make sure that no communicable disease spreads in the flood-hit areas.

In addition to it, there should be adequate supply of food and medicines, in the relief camps, so that people do not go through any hardship.

When asked about the extent of damage, the Chief Minister said he has sought a detailed report, which may take at least three to four days.

However, he said, 43,000 people in 14 Taluks of the four flood-hit districts are affected.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai who was accompanying the Chief Minister, said a joint survey by the state government and Central government officials has to be conducted to assess the actual damage. 

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News Network
October 17,2020

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Mumbai, Oct 17: On the orders of a local court, Mumbai Police on Saturday registered an FIR against actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel for allegedly promoting enmity between different communities and other charges. The Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate's court had ordered the police to investigate a complaint filed by Munawwar Ali Sayyed, a Bollywood casting director and fitness trainer, which referred to Ranaut's and her sister's tweets and other statements.

On the directions of the court, Bandra Police registered a First Information Report against Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel under IPC sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc.), 295A (deliberate acts hurting religious sentiments) and 124-A (sedition), a police official said.

According to Sayyed's lawyer, the complaint alleged that Ranaut has been defaming Bollywood for the last two months by calling it a 'hub of nepotism', 'favouritism', etc, through her tweets and television interviews.

She also tweeted 'very objectionable' comments, which not only hurt his religious sentiments, but also the feelings of many artists and she was trying to divide artists on communal lines, the complainant said.

"Her sister, too, has made objectionable comments on social media to spread communal tension between two religious groups," he said.

Metropolitan magistrate said in the order on Friday that prima facie 'cognisable offence' has been committed by the accused, and directed the police to initiate necessary action and investigation against the actor and her sister.

"Allegations are based upon the comments made on electronic media Twitter and interviews and a thorough investigation by an expert is necessary," the court said.

The complaint also referred to Ranaut's tweet where she referred to Mumbai as 'POK' (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and which led to her public spat with the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

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News Network
October 18,2020

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Manama, Oct 18: Israel and Bahrain will officially establish diplomatic relations on Sunday at a ceremony in Manama, an Israeli official said, after the two states reached a US-brokered normalisation deal last month.

A visiting delegation from Israel and officials in Bahrain will sign a "joint communique (that) is the establishment of full diplomatic relations," an Israel official in Manama told reporters.

Once the text is signed at a ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening, Israel and Bahrain will be free to open embassies in each other's countries, the official said.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalise ties with Israel, following Egypt's peace deal with Israel in 1979 and a 1994 pact with Jordan.

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