“… for the first time after Independence, a record 1,75,025 pilgrims from India will go for Haj this year and that too without any subsidy,” Naqvi said at a training camp organised for pilgrims at the Haj House in Mumbai.
Besides, the Minister said, for the first time, Muslim women from India will go for Haj without a “Mehram” (male companion).
“A total of 1,308 women applied for Haj pilgrimage without “Mehram”. All of them have been exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed for Haj.”
The total pilgrims this year include 19,000 pilgrims from Delhi, 14,500 from Lucknow, 14,200 from Mumbai, 11,700 from Cochin, 11,610 from Kolkata, 8,950 from Srinagar, 7,600 from Hyderabad, 6,700 from Ahmedabad, 5,550 from Bengaluru, 5,500 from Jaipur and 5,140 from Gaya.
A total of 4,000 pilgrims from Chennai, 3,250 from Varanasi, 2,950 from Guwahati, 2,800 from Nagpur, 2,100 from Ranchi, 450 from Goa, 430 from Mangalore, 350 from Aurangabad and 254 from Bhopal will also visit Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.
As many as 1,28,002 pilgrims — including around 47 per cent females — will go on the Muslim pilgrimage through the Haj Committee of India while 47,023 will opt for the services of private tour operators.
The Minister said 355,604 applications were received for Haj this year, including 1,89,217 male and 1,66,387 female applicants.
He said at least Rs 57 crore less will be paid to airlines this year even after ending the Haj subsidy. A total of Rs 973 crore will be paid to airlines for 1,28,002 pilgrims.
In 2017, the air fare for 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims totalled Rs 1,030 crore.
The Minister said the Centre is reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through the sea route and Saudi Arabia had given a green signal to the move.
“Officials from India and Saudi Arabia are holding discussions on necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through the sea route can be started in the coming years.”
Naqvi said for the first time, the choice of embarkation points has also been given to Haj pilgrims, which has received an overwhelming response.