New Delhi/ Jeddah: This is a great news for those people who have been planning to go for Haj and couldn’t get the permission to do so due to lack of India’s quota for the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. After reducing the quota five years ago, Saudi Arabia has finally hiked India’s Haj quota to 1.7 lakh from present 1.36 lakh.
This is a significant addition of 34000 and many people who would have been declined this year are certain to find the nod to travel to the holy city of Mecca to perform mandatory Haj. Muslims, with sufficient means are required to perform Haj once in their lifetime. It is obligatory on every Muslim and people with means, and even those who don’t really have means, try to travel to the holy city and perform the Haj.
The announcement in this regard was made by Union minister of state Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi earlier today. An agreement to this regard was inked by minister of state for minority affairs (independent charge) Naqvi with Saudi Arabia’s haj and umrah minister Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Jeddah on Weddnesday, making the expansion effective from the current year.
It should be kept in mind that the Saudi government had reduced quotas for foreign pilgrims coming from each country by 20 per cent in view of safety of the devotees as they undertook expansion of Grand Mosque there. Accordingly, India’s quota was brought down to 1.36 lakh from nearly 1.70 lakh in 2012.
With most of the expansion work over, the authorities in Saudi Arabia have reverted back to original quota. Expressing pleasure at signing of the agreement, Naqvi said his meeting with Benten was “very fruitful” as constructive discussion was held on the whole gamut of issues related to the pilgrimage, transport and accommodation facilities for pilgrims and their safety.
The Minister in a statement released by Minority Affairs Ministry said, “On behalf of the people and Government of India, we also extend gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Excellency Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, for his keen personal interest and initiative in organising a successful Haj 2016”. Naqvi exuded confidence that under the visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the “excellent” relationship between India and Saudi Arabia will be further strengthened.
The minister further said, “The regular visits by the leaders and senior-level officials of the two nations have further strengthened the relationship between the two nations. The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia during April last year added new dimensions to our vibrant relationship”.