This evening seems to bring a lot of smiles on the faces of our Muslim friends in India. The government of Saudi Arabia has increased India’s annual Haj quota from 1.36 lakh to 1.70 lakh. It is the biggest such expansion in the Haj quota in the last 29 years by the Saudi Arabian government.
An agreement for this increase in the Haj quota was inked by Minister of State for Minority Affairs Naqvi with Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Jeddah. This expansion is from the current year 2017.
The Saudi authorities had five years ago slashed quotas for foreign pilgrims coming from each country by 20% in view of safety of the devotees.
Accordingly, India’s quota was brought down to 1.36 lakh from nearly 1.70 lakh in 2012.
Expressing pleasure at signing of the agreement, Naqvi said that his meeting with Benten was ‘very fruitful’. He also said that “Some constructive discussion was held on the whole gamut of issues related to the pilgrimage, transport and accommodation facilities for pilgrims and their safety.”
Naqvi also shown confidence in the friendship of India and Saudi Arabia. he also believed in the visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.
He also said that “On behalf of the people and Government of India, we also extend gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Excellency Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, for his keen personal interest and initiative in organising a successful Haj 2016.”
Stating India and Saudi Arabia share ideals of global peace, progress and prosperity, Naqvi said the two countries are tied together with strong civilizational, cultural, economic and political links.
As part of its efforts to streamline the process, the government has urged pilgrims to submit their applications online. In December last year, a new Haj website was launched which provides all necessary information to Haj pilgrims, the statement said.
On January 2, the Minister had launched the Haj Committee of India mobile application to help pilgrims apply online.