Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that for the first time after the Independence, a record number of Muslims from the country will go to Haj this year and that too without any subsidy. Naqvi was addressing a training camp organised for Haj “Khadim-Ul-Hujjaj” at Haj House, Mumbai.
He said that the Government led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting India’s Haj quota increased for the second consecutive year and now, for the first time after the Independence, record 1,75,025 pilgrims from India will go to the pilgrimage 2018. A total of 3,55,604 applications had been received for this pilgrimage which included 1,89,217 male and 1,66,387 female applicants.
This year, a total of 1,28,002 pilgrims will go through Haj Committee of India which include about 47 per cent females. 47,023 Haj pilgrims will go through Private Tour Operators. Besides, for the first time Muslim women from India will also go to Haj without “Mehram” (male companion). A total of 1308 women have applied to go for the pilgrimage without “Mehram” and all of these women have been exempted from lottery system and allowed to proceed to Haj.
In 2017, a total of Rs 1030 crore was paid to airlines for air fare for 1,24,852 pilgrims. Whereas, in 2018, a total of Rs 973 crore will be paid to airlines for 1,28,002 for the pilgrims. It means, Rs 57 crore less will be paid to airlines this year even after ending the subsidy.
The Union Government’s commitment to transparency and strict directives given to the airlines to check unreasonable increase in fares has ensured that Haj 2018 air fares have been come down significantly this year.
Naqvi said in the training camp that making the Haj process completely online/ digital has helped to make the entire Haj process transparent and pro-pilgrims.
The Minister also said that Saudi Arabia has given green signal for India’s decision to reviving the option of sending the Muslim pilgrims through sea route also and officials from both the countries are in discussion on all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years. Naqvi said that for the first time, choice of embarkation points has been given to the pilgrims which has received overwhelming response.
In this training camp, 623 “Khadim-ul-Hujjaj” from all the states participated. Officials from Haj Committee of India, Vrihan Mumbai Mahanagar Palika, Disaster Management agencies and doctors informed them in detail, all the process related to the pilgrimage including accommodation, transport, health and safety of pilgrims at Makkah-Madina. For the first time, Female Assistants will be deployed to monitor various facilities for women Hajis.
A total of 6700 pilgrims will go from Ahmedabad, 350 from Aurangabad, 5550 from Bengaluru, 254 from Bhopal, 11,700 from Cochin, 4000 from Chennai, 19,000 from Delhi, 5140 from Gaya, 450 from Goa, 2950 from Guwahati, 7600 from Hyderabad, 5500 from Jaipur, 11,610 from Kolkata, 14,500 from Lucknow, 430 from Mangalore, 14,200 from Mumbai, 2800 from Nagpur, 2100 from Ranchi, 8950 from Srinagar and 3250 from Varanasi.
Consul General of India at Jeddah, Mohammad Nur Rehman Sheikh, Haj Committee of India Chairman Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Qaiser, Members of Haj Committee of India and other officials were also present on the occasion.