NEW DELHI: With Saudi Arabia increasing India’s Haj quota to two lakh, all applicants from big states such as Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar have been cleared for going on the pilgrimage, sources in the Minority Affairs Ministry said.
On Friday, the Saudi Arabian government issued a formal order with regard to the increase in India’s Haj quota.
At a meeting here in February that was attended by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Saudi Arabia had increased India’s quota by about 25,000, taking the number of pilgrims from India who can perform Haj to two lakh.
“Due to the significant increase in India’s Haj quota, all the applicants from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Manipur, Lakshadweep, Odisha, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Tripura, will go on Haj,” a source said.
A record number of two lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj this year without subsidy.
Another highlight this year is that 2,340 Muslim women from India will also go for the pilgrimage without ‘Mehram’ or male companion.
A total of 34,397 applications were received from Uttar Pradesh this year, 8,470 from West Bengal, 191 from Goa, 499 from Manipur, 698 from Odisha, 2,138 from Andhra Pradesh, 3,588 from Assam, 4,950 from Bihar, 72 from Himachal Pradesh, 2,233 from Jharkhand, 342 from Punjab, and 110 from Tripura.
All these applicants have become eligible to go on Haj after the increase in India’s quota, the sources said.
India’s Haj quota has gone up sharply in the last five years as it was 1,36,000 in 2014, they said, adding that the minority affairs minister had made efforts to increase India’s quota to two lakh which fructified when the Saudi Prince acceded to the request made by Modi earlier this year.