Minorities minister to Haj panel: Work to increase quota

Minister for minorities welfare Arif Naseem Khan has attacked the central Haj committee. He claimed the committee failed to get sufficient quota from the Saudi government based on the population of Muslims in India.

"The Haj quota for our country is based on 2001 Census. In the last 13 years, the number of people interested in going to Haj has increased. It is high time we demanded an increase in the Haj quota of the country," Khan said at a draw organised by the Haj committee to select devotees for the pilgrimage this year.

He said despite assurances every year, Indian Hajis faced difficulties.

"They don't even know where the office of the central Haj committee is."

More than 3.5 million people from across the world go to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia every year to perform an annual ritual called Haj.

To control the crowd, the Saudi Haj ministry allotts quotas to different countries. Of the 1,70,000 Indian quota, 1,25,000 go through the Haj committee and the remaining through private tour operators.

Maharashtra has a quota of 10,763. Half of this has been earmarked for people over 70 or those who have applied four consecutive times without success.

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