The process of selecting pilgrims for the annual Haj pilgrimage for 2014 through an online draw of lots, ‘Qurrah’, was initiated in Bangalore on Sunday.
Speaking on the occasion Union Minorities and Wakf minister K Rahman Khan said the Haj quota was slashed all over the world owing to the construction at Harram Sharieff in Saudi Arabia.
“Now the main issue before us is to increase state’s share and restore it to the original quota. The information regarding the slash did not reach me. If had known, I would have taken part in the agitation and also would have writen a letter to the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister,” he said.
Chairman of the Karnataka Haj Committee Mohammed Margoob Ahmed, who is also the Vice-chairman of the Haj Committee, Government of India said over 7,000 pilgrims from the state take up the pilgrimage.
“But this time the quota has been slashed to 4,977. We will try to increase the state’s quota,” he said.
However, Information and Haj Minister R Roshan Baig told Rahman Khan that instead of writing a letter to the Union government, a delegation from the state should be taken to seek an increase in the quota. Baig also said there is a need to take action against private tour operators, who are charging excessive fares from pilgrims. Among the applicants this year, 871 were selected under the reserve category A (pilgrims aged above 70) and 478 applications were selected under the reserve category B (those who were not selected during the previous three years). The lottery selection is only for the remaining 3,628 seats. The total applicants received is 17,182. This year India’s share was 1,00,020 pilgrims, a cut of 20 per cent from the usual quota.
District-wise Muslim population per cent is taken into consideration during the selection process. Districts like Gadag, Koppal and Yadgir, which are home to very applicants are automatically selected.
Once selected, the applicants will board flights from Bangalore, Mangalore, Goa and Hyderabad to Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims from Karnataka and Ananthpur and Chittoor districts from Andhra Pradesh will have to board flights from Bangalore. Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Udupi, Hassan and Chikmagalur pilgrims will depart from Mangalore. Pilgrims from Belgaum and other places in North Karnataka will have to take a flight from Goa.While pilgrims from Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bidar and Raichur will leave from Hyderabad.