1.75 Lakh Indians to Perform Hajj
New Delhi: Over 1.75 lakh pilgrims will perform Hajj from India this year, which is likely to fall on August 24. Of these, 1,28,702 will perform Hajj through the Central Haj Committee of India while others will travel through private Hajj operators. Of all the pilgrims, 47% will be women.
A little over 1,300 women pilgrims aged 45 and above will be travelling for Hajj without a Male mehram for the first time. The Govt. of India has initiated this in view of women who have no male companion were earlier not able to perform their pilgrimage. The rules in this context have been relaxed from both the Government of Saudi Arabia as well as the Central Haj Committee of India. These women will be bunched in groups of four to keep company.
The Committee has also made provision for allowing pilgrims to choose an embarkation point other than their designated regional point.
Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister for Minority Affairs, informed a gathering on June 30 that the Central Haj Committee received 3,55,604 applications for those aspiring to perform Hajj this year. He however claimed that the travel has been cheaper despite total phasing out of the central subsidy over airfare. He said the Committee has paid Rs. 974 crore for booking of air seats for 1,28,702 pilgrims whereas it had paid Rs. 1,031 crore for booking 1,24,852 pilgrims last year thereby saving Rs. 57 crore.
Mr. Naqvi said Women Hajj Coordinators will also be sent to the holy sites to guide the pilgrims. The team of the official personnel to guide Hajis will comprise Women Assistant Hajj Officers, Hajj Assistants, Hajj Coordinators, female doctors and women paramedics.
Hajj flights began operations on July 14 from Delhi, Gaya, Guwahati, Lucknow and Srinagar; on July 17 from Kolkata, on July 20 from Varanasi, on July 21 from Mangalore, on July 26 from Goa, on July 29 from Aurangabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Nagpur, on July 30 from Ranchi, on August 1 from Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and on August 3 from Bhopal.
Following is the number of pilgrims taking flights from various cities: Ahmedabad 7006; Aurangabad 350; Kochi 11,700; Chennai 4,000; Delhi 19,000; Gaya 1,405; Goa 450; Guwahati 9,502; Hyderabad 7,6000; Kolkata 11,610; Jaipur 5,005; Lucknow 14,500, Mangalore 4,300; Mumbai 14,200; Nagpur 2,800; Ranchi 2,100; Srinagar 8,950, and Varanasi 3,250.