Concerned over the political and logistical fallout over the Haj quota being slashed by 40,000 seats, India has urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider the decision.
In order to expand facilities for the pilgrims, Saudi government has undertaken massive development in Mecca.
In the wake of this, Saudi informed India that they want a reduction of 50 per cent in internal pilgrims for the Haj and 20 per cent in all pilgrims overseas.
“Given the fact that the processes for the Haj pilgrimage have already been initiated, we have requested the Saudi authorities both in Delhi and in Riyadh to reconsider their decision taking into account the advanced stage of preparations. We are awaiting a response from them,” said Syed Akbaruddin, MEA spokesperson.
The Saudi decision has set in motion a flurry of activities in the government since last evening as plans are already in the final stages for the Haj this year, which is closely monitored by the Supreme Court.
The government is under scrutiny from the apex court for the conduct of Haj, which had been riddled with many complaints.
Last year, Indian haj quota was 1,76,000. New Delhi had requested for an additional 10,000. The Indian Haj quota is divided between the All India Haj committee and private tour operators.
With the preparations in the final stages, reworking of the quota will be the first major challenge for the Centre.
Soon after the intimation came from Saudi authorities, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and minister of state in the MEA, E Ahmed held a discussion on the issue. Now, the MEA will discuss the matter with the law officials as well.