In 2018, Saudi Arabia increased India’s Haj quota by 5,000 while in 2017, it increased it by about 35,000.
Mumbai: The Haj Committee of India Saturday held a ceremony to flag-off pilgrims as the first Haj flight from the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport will depart Sunday for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The first batch of Haj pilgrims will leave for Mecca-Medina; the government of India has allocated a quota of 60,000 Haj seats to Haj Group Organisers (HGOs).
In a bid to woo pilgrims from India, Saudi Arabia has increased the country’s Haj quota from 170,000 to 200,000, paving the way for 30,000 more Indians to go on the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in the kingdom. In 2018, Saudi Arabia increased India’s Haj quota by 5,000 while in 2017, it increased it by about 35,000.
According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, out of a total 140,000 people embarking on the pilgrimage under the aegis of the Haj Committee of India, around 63,000 will arrive in Medina by July 21 and the remaining 77,000 will arrive in Jeddah between July 20 and August 5.
A record 200,000 Indian Muslims are expected to undertake the Haj pilgrimage this year, including 160,000 through the Haj Committee of India and the rest through HGOs. Earlier, Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the HGOs would take 10,000 pilgrims at rates finalised by the Haj Committee.
Mr Naqvi said that the number of female Haj pilgrims going without ‘Mehram’ (male escort/s) would be 2,340 i.e. almost double that of last year’s 1,180.
“This year too, the ministry has made arrangements to send these women for Haj without the lottery system. Of the total 200,000 pilgrims, women will be around 48 per cent,” said Mr Naqvi.
The main date for the Haj pilgrimage this year is August 9, in the Dhul Hijjah month, 1440, as per the Islamic calendar, and it will continue for five days.