Hyderabad: The long-pending demand for increase in Haj pilgrims’ quota from Andhra Pradesh may get resolved this year with the state government deciding to pursue the matter seriously with the Centre.
A delegation of the state Haj Committee led by minority welfare minister Mohd Ahmadullah Syed will be meeting officials of the ministry of external affairs next month to discuss the issue.
“Though the number of applicants for the pilgrimage has been increasing every year, the quota had remained almost the same since the last three years. A lot of applicants are getting disappointed for not getting an opportunity to perform Haj pilgrimage every year”, the minister said. He asserted the need to increase Haj quota in proportionate to applications as well as Muslim population in the state.
The total number of applications received by the Haj committee this year was 17,000 out of which 6,130 pilgrims have been selected in the draw of lots conducted on May 18. Of the selected 6,130, 1755 applicants came under reserved category, who crossed 70 years. As per the instructions of central Haj Committee, applicants aged 70 years and above come under the reserved category from this year. “It’s unfair to include the reserved category without increasing the state Haj quota. Most of the applicants and committee members criticised the new system and questioned the reason for not increasing quota after reserving quota for septuagenarians”, a committee member said. “If the Centre fails to increase the quota, poor pilgrims will not be able to perform Haj with private operators exploiting them by charging hefty fee,” he added.
While inaugurating training camp for Haj pilgrims here on Sunday, the minister said the camps will be organised for all pilgrims selected from Hyderabad and neighbouring districts. They will be educated about the customs being practised during Haj pilgrimage at Mecca and Madina. The camps will be organised until the last batch of pilgrims fly to Mecca.
The state government allocated Rs 10 lakh funds additionally to meet the expenses during this Haj season and, if required, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had promised to give more funds, Ahmadullah said. Government already allocated Rs 80 lakh to provide basic facilities like accommodation, food and transportation for their stay in Hyderabad. TOI