Jeddah: Indian authorities in Saudi Arabia are gearing up to extend services for increased number of Haj pilgrims this year. Like other countries, India too finalised the annual Haj contract with the Kingdom last year and accordingly, arrangements were made at holy sites.
India received an additional quota of 25,000 in February and the same was officially updated last week. Since then, Indian officials in Jeddah were working to extend services to increased number of pilgrims. “We are glad to note an increased Haj quota officially from Haj Ministry,” said Indian Consul General, Md Noor Rahman Sheikh.
He said the quota increase was announced after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New Delhi on February 20, and recently the same was stated by the Haj Ministry. The Consul General added that the Indian Haj Mission was working to extend services such as accommodation and transportation too.
In the additional quota of 25,000 pilgrims, 70 per cent was allocated for the Central Haj Committee and the remaining 30 per cent was for private tour operators. In turn, the Central Haj Committee distributed the additional quota of Haj pilgrim to various States according to the size of their population.
There were total of 13,368 pilgrims who applied for the pilgrimage against 4,169 quota of the State. Telangana was allocated 821 seats post the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to India, an addition to private tour operators.
India was initially allocated a quota of around 17,000 based on the population of Muslims in the country. But, in 2018, 1,75,025 pilgrims performed Haj as the Saudi government accepting similar requests by the Modi government increased India’s quota by 5,025. The figure further rose to 2,00,000 as gesture by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Though Indian is a non-Muslim country, its Haj quota is the same as some of the leading Islamic countries in the world.