Two BJP leaders to represent India at Haj pilgrimage

Two senior BJP politicians will represent India at this year's Haj where over 1.3 lakh Indian pilgrims are scheduled to take part.

Jeddah: Two senior BJP politicians will represent India at this year's Haj where over 1.3 lakh Indian pilgrims are scheduled to take part.

Arif Beg, a former federal minister who hails from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and Abdul Rasheed Ansari, National President of party's minority wing, of Delhi would arrive in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Arab News reported.

Out of the 100,000 pilgrims going through the Haj Committee of India, 91,000 have already landed in the Kingdom.

"They are in good health. India has deputised 139 Indian doctors for Haj duty," Indian Consul General B S Mubarak was quoted as saying by the report.

Earlier, India's Haj delegation used to consist of more than 20 members including ministers, journalists, lawyers and academicians and would stay in some of the best hotels in Mecca and Medina at the government's expense.

The practice ended in 2012 after the country's apex court ordered to stop sending large delegations at government expense. As a result, last year, senior Congress politician Ghulam Nabi Azad was the only delegate to represent India at the Haj. He was joined by Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao.

Mubarak said the "Indian Haji Accommodation Locator" an Internet-based smartphone application that he launched a month ago, is coming in very handy to guide missing pilgrims to their accommodation in Mecca.

This year, 33 Indians have died of illness or due to old-age ailments during the pilgrimage.
India's Haj quota in 2014 has been fixed at 136,000 the same as last year when Saudi Arabia slashed it by 20 per cent for all foreign pilgrims citing expansion work at holy sites. 

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