New Delhi, Aug 30: This year's "historic" Haj has been successfully completed and, despite removal of subsidy for the pilgrimage, there was no additional financial burden on pilgrims, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Naqvi said the ministry was making efforts to send pilgrims for Haj by sea next year. He said several reforms - such as doing away with subsidy and women going without a male guardian - were associated with the pilgrimage. "Blocking middlemen has ensured that Haj 2018 has not put any additional burden on Haj pilgrims," he told reporters. "This year's historic Haj has been successfully completed," he said, adding, for the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims from India performed Haj this year.
The ministry in cooperation with Saudi Arabia Haj Consulate, Haj Committee of India and other agencies completed preparations for Haj about two months before schedule, Naqvi said. The government succeeded in getting India's Haj quota increased for the second year in a row and a record 1,75,025 Muslims from India performed Haj this year, he said. This year, 1,28,702 Indian Muslims went through Haj Committee of India, about 47 per cent of them women, and 46,323 Haj pilgrims went through private tour operators.
For the first time, a portal was developed for private tour operators and it was made mandatory for PTOs to provide information on it, Naqvi said. Another first this year was that 1,308 women from India proceeded to Haj without a male companion, he said.
In 2017, a total of Rs 1,030 crore was paid to airlines for air fare for 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims. In 2018, a total of Rs 973 crore was paid to airlines for 1,28,702 pilgrims, going through Haj Committee of India, he said. He said the mobile application 'Indian Haji Information System', developed by Indian Haj Consulate, ensured that the number of missing cases reduced significantly. "This year, only 37 missing complaints were registered compared to 400 last year. All 37 missing Indian pilgrims have been traced," he said.