AMN / NEW DELHI /
India’s Haj quota has been increased for the consecutive second year. A record 1 lakh 75 thousand and 25 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 Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi signed the bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement with Saudi Arabia with Haj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabiaat 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. “This has happened because of India’s cordial relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi”, Naqvi said adding that last year also, Saudi Arabia had increased India’s Haj quota by 35,000.
On behalf of Government of India and people of the country, Naqvi thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud and Saudi Arabia Government for the increase in India’s Haj quota. He emphasised that 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.
The Minister also pointed out that about 3 lakh 55 thousand applications have been received for Haj 2018. Naqvi said that 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 who 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.