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24 June 2013

Islamic scholars oppose reduction in pilgrim flow for Haj

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In India, Haj pilgrims are segregated in two categories – those who go through the Haj Committee and the other who deploy services of private tour operators.

Mumbai: Islamic scholars and Muslim bodies have urged Saudi Arabia government and Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to reconsider the move to reduce number of pilgrims from Haj quota as the reduction was applicable only in the share of private tour operators.

Jamaitul Ulama Hind president Maulana Abdus Salam Khan Qasmi, All India Ulama Board president Alama Bonai Naeem Hasni and president of Association of Muslims Professional Amir Edresy sent separate letters to Saudi authorities and MEA officials expressing concern in this regard, a release issued here said.

In India, Haj pilgrims are segregated in two categories – those who go through the Haj Committee and the other who deploy services of private tour operators.

Haj quota of India in 2004 was 1,17,000 pilgrims (72,000 for Haj committee and 45,000 for private tour operators) and every year India got substantial rise in quota from Saudi authorities.

The present quota is 1,70,000 pilgrims (1,25,000 for Haj committee and 45,000 for private tour operators which has remained stagnant since 2004), the release said.

The Saudi ministry has suggested that India's Haj quota be reduced by 20 per cent (34,000). Reports said Indian authorities were planning to reduce the entire 20 per cent quota from the share of private Haj operators only, it said.

As per the bilateral agreement with Saudi government and direction of Supreme Court, private Haj has been recognised and if at all the quota needed to be reduced, then the Indian government should deduct proportionately, the religious scholars demanded.

"We are requesting them to take up the issue with the Saudi authorities to ensure that the Haj quota of India is not reduced.

Moreover, the reduction in quota has been passed on to private tour operators. If at all it is reduced, the burden for those who travel from Haj committee and private tour operators quotas should be proportionate," Qasmi said.

"The Indian government must request Saudi authorities not to cut their quota from the international share," said Hasni.

Aamir Edresy has requested the Ministry of Islamic Affairs Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to roll-back the decision and allow regular flow of pilgrims to perform Haj.

Saudi Arabia government has suggested reduction of 20 per cent in the flow of pilgrims to the Holy Kaaba because the expansion programme of Haram Sharif premises has commenced to facilitate maximum number of people to perform Haj, the release added.

(Courtesy: DNA)

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