SRINAGAR: The Modi-led government has succeeded in getting India’s Haj quota increased for the consecutive second year, a PIB statement issued here said on Tuesday, adding that for the first time since 1947, a record number of 1,75,025 pilgrims from India will go for Haj 2018.
The decision by the Saudi Arabia government to increase India’s Haj quota for 2018 has come days after Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi signed the bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement between New Delhi and Riyadh with Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at Makkah. “Three years ago, India’s Haj quota was about 1,36,020, which has been increased during the last two years, to a record – 1 lakh 75 thousand and 25,” Naqvi said on Tuesday. “This has happened because of the growing popularity of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and due to India’s cordial and strengthened relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations under the leadership of Modi.”
Last year also, Saudi Arabia had increased India’s Haj quota by 35,000,” Abbas added.
On behalf of the Government of India and people of the country, the minority affairs minister thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Excellency, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud and Saudi Arabia Government for the increase in India’s Haj quota.
“Besides this, Saudi Arabia has also given the green signal for India’s decision to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also and officials from both the countries will discuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years,” Naqvi said.
The minister said about 3 lakh 55 thousand applications have been received for Haj 2018. “For the first time, Muslim women from India will go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion). More than 1, 300 women have applied to go for Haj without male ‘Mehram’ and all of these women will be exempted from lottery system and allowed to proceed to Haj.”
“Women above 45 years of age, who wish to go for Haj but do not have a male companion, are allowed to travel for Haj in groups of 4 or more women, according to the new Indian Haj policy,” the minority affairs minister said.