Though the state and central government this year decided to raise the quota of the Haj aspirants from Jammu and Kashmir from 6,000 to 12,000 there seems no concrete measure to accommodate the 6,000 dropped Haj aspirants even the first flight for the annual pilgrimage has taken off for Jeddah from Baramullah on Wednesday.
This year the state government received around 13,000 applications from the people aspiring to leave for the holy pilgrimage, against the allotted quota of 6,665 for the state, thus 6,000 Haj aspirants were dropped.
Chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of increasing the Haj quota of the state with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to almost double the allotted quota of the state following the decision of Saudi Arabia government to enhance the Indian quota by 10,000 this year.
After rounds of meeting with the central government, the state government last week announced that the quota of the Haj pilgrims has been increased and all the 6,000 Haj aspirants who had been dropped in the earlier list would be accommodated in the second list.
This step seemed as a positive gesture towards the state by the union government and the Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his kindheartedness towards the people of the state, but after more than a week of the decision the road is not clear for the 6,000 dropped Haj aspirants, who say that the announcement regarding the hike in quota was just a plan to gain political mileage by the state government.
In this regard dropped out Haj aspirants are holding daily protest demonstrations, pressing the state government to fulfill their demands of accommodating them for Haj this year.
"In order to gain political mileage the government announced the hike in the state quota this year. They played with our religious sentiments by lying to us that all the 6,000 dropped Haj pilgrims would also be send for Haj this year," said Bashir Ahmed tantray a resident of Handwara whose name did not figure in the list of people selected to undertake the pilgrimage this year.
Every year the fate of the Haj aspirants is decided by the draw of lots conducted by the state Haj committee. This year 6665 people were selected to undergo the holy pilgrimage. A total of 31 special flights from Srinagar would airlift the pilgrims to Jeddah carrying 215 pilgrims in each flight till December 22. Meanwhile the 6,000 dropped out Haj aspirants' blame the state government for not being serious enough to send them for Haj this year.
"We have received no communication whether we will be send our not. We haven't been asked to deposit the money and we haven't made any preparations yet. The season of the pilgrimage has started and we are yet unaware of our fate," said a dropped out Haj aspirant.
While speaking to Hindustan Times, the Minister for Haj and Auqaf, Peerzada Mohammed Syeed while requesting the dropped out Haj aspirants to be 'patient’ said, "I advise them to be patient as we are trying to send all those who have been dropped in the previous list. Though unofficial, but this year around 10,500 people from the state would be send for Haj as compared to the 9,000 of previous year."
When asked to comment whether the state government has received any communication from Central Haj committee in this regard he said, "Though we haven't yet received any formal communication in the proposed increase of the Haj quota of the state, I am hopeful that the same would be received in a day or two."