New Delhi, Dec 31: Muslim women who have applied to go for Hajj without a ‘mehram (husband or a male first blood relation as guardian) this year have been exempted from the lucky draw system that the Hajj Committee operates, the government said on Sunday.
This means that all the 1,300-odd women who have applied for Hajj will be able to travel with no quota restrictions.
The announcement by the Minority Affairs Ministry came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ said that women should get equal opportunities as men.
As per the new Hajj policy, women can now travel for Hajj without a mehram in groups of four. Earlier, women were barred from performing Hajj alone.
“Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modiji for mentioning in today’s (Sunday) Mann Ki Baat the decision of Minority Affairs Ministry to lift ban on women going for Hajj without mehram,” Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.
“After the Prime Minister’s suggestion, I assure that those about 1,300 women who have applied to go for Hajj without mehram, will be exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed on Hajj,” Naqvi said.
Normally, the Hajj Committee of India (HCI) finalises the names of pilgrims who can go for Hajj from the HCI quota through a lucky draw as it receives applications many times more than India’s fixed quota of around 1,70,000 pilgrims.
Earlier in the day, Modi, in his radio address said: “I noticed that if a Muslim woman wanted to go for the Hajj pilgrimage, they cannot go without a mehram.”
“And when I enquired about it, I came to know that it was we who have restricted them for going alone for the Hajj. This practice is not followed in many of the Islamic countries,” he said.
“Till date, 1,300 women have applied to travel for the Hajj without any Mehram,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “they should get equal opportunity as the men get”.