Large number of Muslim women likely to go to Hajj without ‘Mehram’ in 2019: Naqvi

Large number of Muslim women likely to go to Hajj without ‘Mehram’ in 2019: Naqvi
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New Delhi, Dec 9: A large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Hajj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) next year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Sunday.
Naqvi, while chairing a meeting here with representatives of organisations associated with Hajj, said that Haj Committee of India has received more than 2,23,000 applications for Hajj 2019 till now.
The over 2,23,000 applications include about 47 per cent women, he was quoted as saying by a statement released from his office.
Hajj application process had started on November 7, 2018, and the last date for it is December 12.
Naqvi said that more than 2,000 women have applied to go for Hajj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ with the number likely to go up.
Naqvi said that in 2018, for the first time, the Centre had lifted the ban on women going to Hajj without Mehram, which resulted into about 1,300 women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion.
They had been exempted from the lottery system and more than 100 women Hajj coordinators and Hajj assistants had been deployed to assist the Indian women Hajj pilgrims, Naqvi said.
For the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,025 — from India performed Hajj in 2018 and that too without any subsidy, he said.
Naqvi said that making the Hajj process completely digital has helped in making the entire process transparent.
For Hajj 2019, about 1,36,000 online applications have been received and the online portal for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) is already operational, Naqvi said.
While on one hand, the portal has ensured transparency in the functioning of PTOs, on the other hand it is very beneficial for the pilgrims as they get all the necessary information, he said, adding that the new policy for the PTOs is also likely to be chalked out this year.
Naqvi said that the central government, in coordination with Indian Consulate in Jeddah and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities for the pilgrims.
The bilateral Hajj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is likely to be signed soon, he said.