NEW DELHI: More than 2,100 Indian women have applied to go to Haj 2019 without Mehram (a male companion), Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Thursday after he signed the annual bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia for Haj 2019. Naqvi and Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten signed the agreement at Jeddah on Thursday.
The minister said around one lakh thirty-six thousand online applications have already been received for 2019. Naqvi said a large number of Muslim women from India are likely to undertake the pilgrimage next year. The Centre had, for the first time, lifted the ban on women going for Haj without Mehram in 2018. Following this decision, around 1,300 Indian women went for the pilgrimage.
The Haj Committee of India has received more than 2.47 lakh applications for next year of which around 1.36 lakh were online, Naqvi said, adding of the total number of applicants, 47 per cent are women. He said for the first time since Independence, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,000 — from India performed Haj this year and without subsidy.
At the event, Naqvi complimented the Saudi government for ensuring better facilities to pilgrims every year. He said the Saudi government has always played an active and effective role to ensure safety and better facilities to Indian Haj pilgrims, which strengthened bilateral relations. India-Saudi Arabia relations have achieved newer heights under Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naqvi said.