Haj applicants from Gujarat outnumber rest of India

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Amist the hue and cry over the status of Muslims under the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, the community has outnumbered other states in applying for the Haj pilgrimage this year. With the average expense for an adult's Haj pilgrimage coming to around Rs 2 lakh, it reflects the prosperity of Gujarat Muslims.

After filling the 1.19 lakh available seats, the Haj Committee of India (HCOI) was left with 1.79 lakh excess applications. The highest 36,171 excess applications are from Muslims hailing from Gujarat. On the other hand, Muslims from Nitish Kumar's Bihar and Mamata Banerjee's Bengal could not even exhaust the seats allotted to them for Haj pilgrimage. The surplus seats were transferred to other states, including Gujarat.

Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is mandatory for every physically and financially able Muslim to perform Haj pilgrimage once in his or her lifetime. In India, the devotees go on Haj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia through their respective State Haj Committees (SHC), which act on the directions of the Haj Committee of India located in Mumbai.

For the 2013 Haj, the HCOI has been allotted 1.19 lakh seats by the Ministry of External Affairs. These seats are distributed to the SHCs in proportion to the Muslim population according to the 2001 census. Uttar Pradesh got a maximum quota of 32,214 seats. For this, 35,082 applications were received, which meant an excess of 2,868 applications.

Gujarat, on the other hand, had a quota of only 4,813 seats. It was left with a whopping 36,171 excess applications, the maximum in any state. It is much more than the figures from states with a high proportion of Muslims, like West Bengal, which got second highest quota of 17,430 seats but received only 10,111 applications. In Bihar, which got 11,817 seats, the third highest in the country, only 6,533 applications were received. In Assam, only 2,765 applications were received against 7,245 seats.

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