NEW DELHI: Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said a large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) next year.
At a meeting with representatives of organisations, Naqvi said the Haj Committee of India has received more than 2,23,000 applications till now for the next year’s pilgrimage.
Incidentally, women comprise about 47 per cent of the over 2.23 lakh applications. Haj applications, which began on Nov. 7, will be accepted till December 12. Naqvi said that more than 2,000 women have applied to go for Haj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ with the number likely to go up.
In 2018, for the first time, the Centre had lifted the ban on women going to Haj without Mehram, which led to about 1,300 women going on the pilgrimage on their own.
They had been exempted from the lottery system and more than 100 women Haj coordinators and Haj assistants had been deployed to assist the Indian women pilgrims.
This year, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,025 — from India performed Haj and that too without any subsidy.
Naqvi said that making the Haj process completely digital has helped in making the entire process transparent.
For Haj 2019, about 1,36,000 online applications have been received and the online portal for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) is already operational, the minister said.
While on one hand, the portal has ensured transparency in the functioning of PTOs, on the other hand it is very beneficial for the pilgrims as they get all the necessary information, he said, adding that the new policy for the PTOs is also likely to be chalked out this year.
Naqvi said the government, in coordination with Indian Consulate in Jeddah and various agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities for the pilgrims. The bilateral Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is likely to be signed soon, Naqvi said.
With Agency inputs