Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday claimed that Haj quota for India has “increased for the consecutive second year” because of the “growing popularity” of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and India’s strengthened relations with Saudi Arabia.
The Minister also claimed that the increase over the past two years – of nearly 40,000 – is a “record expansion” since Independence, reported TOI.
In a statement, he added: “Three years ago, during the Congress regime, India’s Haj quota was about 1,36,020, which has been increased to record 1,75,025 in the past two years.”
Naqvi, who returned from Saudi Arabia after signing a bilateral annual agreement for Haj 2018, has tried to give a political spin to the Haj issue by claiming “restoration” of old Haj quota as “Increased” quota.
As per the press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on July 08, 2013 which is also uploaded on its website, the Saudi authorities had slashed quotas for foreign pilgrims coming from each country by 20% because of the Holy mosque expansion work. Accordingly, India’s quota was brought down to 1.36 lakh from 1.70 lakh in 2012.
Last year also, the minister had made such “hyperbole claim” to mislead the people while the reality was that the Saudi Arabia government had restored the existing Haj quota of all countries which has been slashed by 20% in 2012.
Because of the Masjid Al Haram expansion work in Makkah, Haj quota of 1, 36,020 remained same during first two years of the present government.
Saudi Arabia, this year, increased India’s Haj quota by 5,000. So now Haj quota has been increased from earlier 1.70 lakh to 1.75 lakh.
According to a Haj Committee official, this year, Haj Committee of India has received 3. 55 lakh applications for the Haj 2018 and 1300, women applied to go for Haj without “Mehram” who will be exempted from lottery system.
As per the new Haj policy, women above 45 years of age can go on the holy pilgrimage without a “Mehram” (male guardian) in a group of four or more women.