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Saudi Arabia hikes India's Haj quota to 2 lakh after PM Narendra Modi-Crown Prince Salman meet

After the announcement, the number of Muslims who can perform Haj has increased to 2 lakh from the previous 1.75 lakh. 

Saudi Arabia hikes India's Haj quota to 2 lakh after PM Narendra Modi-Crown Prince Salman meet
Photo courtesy: Reuters

New Delhi: In a major boost to Muslim pilgrims in the country, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Wednesday increased India's Haj quota by 25,000. This is the third hike in the Haj quota in the last years. After the announcement, the number of Muslims who can perform Haj has increased to 2 lakh from the previous 1.75 lakh. 

The decision was announced by the Ministry of External Affairs after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with visiting Saudi Crown in the national capital on Wednesday. 

TS Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the MEA, said the implementation of the enhanced quota will depend on logistical and other things. "At our request, Saudi Arabia has decided to increase the quota for Haj pilgrims from India to 2 lakh. This gesture is deeply appreciated," he told reporters at a briefing on the talks.

Hailing the decision and thanking PM Modi, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it will be effective from this year. "This is the third hike in consecutive years. When the Modi government came to power in 2014, India's Haj quota was 1,36,000, which has now been increased to 2 lakh. This will be the highest number of pilgrims going for Haj from India since independence," Naqvi told PTI.

He also took to Twitter to express his pleasure on the decision and wrote, "Thanks to PM Sh @narendramodi and His Majesty Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud and His Royal Highness Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud and External Affairs Minister Smt  @SushmaSwaraj for increasing India’s Haj quota to 2 lakh.

"For the first time since Independence, a record number of 2 lakh Indian Muslims will go to Haj this year that too without any subsidy. This include 2340 Muslim women,who will go to Haj this year without “Mehram” (male companion)." 

"When the @narendramodi Govt came in 2014, India’s Haj quota was 1 lakh 36 thousand, which has now been increased to 2 lakh in 4 years. This will be the highest number of Haj pilgrims from India since Independence," he wrote in a series of tweets. 

Naqvi said this was possible because of Modi's very cordial and friendly relations with the Saudi leadership. He added, "This year, 2,340 Muslim women from India will go for Haj without 'Mehram' or male companion. Also, India will be sending the second highest number of pilgrims for Haj after Indonesia." 

Last year, the Centre had for the first time lifted the ban on women going to Haj without Mehram. The decision resulted in about 1300 Muslim women going on Haj 2018 without any male companion. These women had been exempted from the lottery system. 

Last year, Saudi Arabia had increased India's Haj quota by 5,000 to 1,75,025, while in 2017 it was increased by about 35,000.

A record 1,75,025 number of Muslims from India, which included about 48 per cent of women, had performed Haj 2018 and that too without any subsidy.

The Haj subsidy provided by the government was removed in 2018 in the light of a Supreme Court order of 2012.