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UP tops list of states with most pilgrims going for Haj

Uttar Pradesh figures on top of the list of states that would be sending the maximum number of pilgrims this year to perform Haj--the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

cities Updated: May 16, 2019 11:13 IST
M Tariq Khan
M Tariq Khan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Haj,pilgrims,Mecca in Saudi Arabia
NDA government’s decision to do away with the Haj subsidy has not had much impact on the travellers.(PTI/File photo)

Uttar Pradesh figures on top of the list of states that would be sending the maximum number of pilgrims this year to perform Haj--the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrims would also include Muslim women travelling alone this year after the Union government amended rules in 2018. “This year 33,000 people will be going for Haj from UP alone against the two lakh from all over the country,” said Javed Khan, assistant secretary, UP Haj Committee.

Uttar Pradesh figures on top of the list of states that would be sending the maximum number of pilgrims this year to perform Haj--the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrims would also include Muslim women travelling alone this year after the Union government amended rules in 2018.

“This year 33,000 people will be going for Haj from UP alone against the two lakh from all over the country,” said Javed Khan, assistant secretary, UP Haj Committee. Khan said the Saudi Arab government this year increased the total Haj quota for Indian pilgrims to 2 lakh, an increase of 25,000. Consequently, UP, which sent 31,000 pilgrims last year, too would be able to accommodate 2,000 more people this time against the total 34,800 applications it received for the annual pilgrimage.

According to Khan, the male-female ratio of the pilgrims was 60:40, including 99 Muslim women, who would be performing the annual pilgrimage alone as the new rules now allow women above 45 years of age to travel in groups of four or without a male companion. The Saudi government lifted this restriction on women travelling alone in 2016, but the Central government adopted the provision and changed the Haj Policy in 2018.

Although UP may be sending the maximum number of ‘hajis’, but the top slot for women pilgrims is occupied by Kerala. According to the data available with the Haj Committee, of the total 2,340 Muslim women going alone to Saudi Arabia, 2,011 are from Kerala. In fact, more women than men have applied for Haj this year. In all, there are more than 11,000 pilgrims from Kerala — 6,959 women (with or without ‘mehram’) and 4,513 men.

“UP has two embarkation points for the pilgrims, one in Lucknow and another in Varanasi. “Instead of flying to Medina, the ‘hajis’ (pilgrims) this time would fly directly to Jeddah. This would save them time,” said Khan, adding that the first Haj flight would commence by July end.

NDA government’s decision to do away with the Haj subsidy has not had much impact on the travellers.

“The total Haj package for one person costs around Rs 2.40 to Rs 2.50 lakh,” says Khan. But private tour operators, who are allocated 30 per cent share in the Haj quota to fly pilgrims, feel the prices could be lower.

First Published: May 16, 2019 11:12 IST