Out of 650 caretakers, 13 women to assist 1.75 lakh Haj pilgrims

Nearly 47 per cent of pilgrims are women and 1,300 of them will be travelling without a mehram (male companion)

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Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that post-Saudi government increased the pilgrim quota by 5,000, 1.75 lakh people registered for this year's pilgrimage. He further said that this will be happening for the first time when 13 women Khadim-ul-Hujjaj (personal caretakers) will be assisting the pilgrims.

Naqvi told Hindustan Times,

Out of 650 Khadim-ul-Hujja accompanying pilgrims, 13 will be women. This year, nearly 47 per cent of pilgrims are women and 1,300 of them are travelling without a mehram (male companion)."

Naqvi also spoke on the Haj subsidy mentioning that though the Central government abolished the same from this year, pilgrims end up paying a heavy price to visit Mecca and the difference is significant. He mentioned that until last year, a pilgrim had to pay ₹1.8 lakh but from this year, a pilgrim will end up paying between ₹2 lakh and ₹2.4 lakh. 

He further spoke on the statistics of pilgrims travelling and added that pilgrims from Indore, Goa, Aurangabad and Bhopal have chosen to leave from Mumbai which in turn has increased the tally of pilgrims to 14,200 as compared to 6,297 in 2017

Maqsood Ahmed Khan, chief executive officer, Haj Committee of India (HCOI) told HT,

Several embarkation points were provided to the pilgrims, thus making it commercially viable for the airlines as well. However, there has been a 3 per cent increase in the total cost owing to cancellation of subsidy. Also, there are other expenses that will be added once pilgrims reach Saudi and pays taxes there."

Naqvi added that ₹57 Cr was saved from the airfare despite the subsidy was abolished. 

There hasn’t been much of a difference in the airfare because of the negotiations with the airlines. The overall subsidy we used to get every year was Rs. 200 crore, but now it’s zero,” Mehboob Ali Kaiser, Chairman, HCOI.

Naqvi spoke on other provisions mentioning that the government is planning to revive the sea route by next year and the tender has been floated for the same.

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