Over 2,300 Muslim women from India will go on Hajj this year without a ‘Mehram’ or male companion as all those who applied under this category have been exempted from the lottery system, India’s minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said  on Wednesday (16).

The Modi government had last year allowed women going to Hajj without Mehram, which had resulted in about 1,300 Muslim women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system.

Naqvi, while inaugurating the new office space of Hajj Division at RK Puram here, said that for the first time after the Independence, 2,340 Muslim women have applied to go on Hajj 2019 without Mehram.

This year too, on the directions of prime minister Narendra Modi, the minority affairs ministry has made arrangement to send these women on Hajj without the lottery system, he was quoted as saying in a statement released from his office.

Women from all states are among the 2,340 that have applied to go on Haj 2019 without Mehram.

More than 2,67,000 applications had been received for Haj this year out of which 1,64,902 applications have been submitted online, Naqvi said.

A lottery is conducted to select the pilgrims as there is a fixed quota allotted by Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage.

A record number of 1,75,025 Muslims, including about 48 per cent women, from India performed Hajj in 2018 and that too without any subsidy, Naqvi said.

With the Goods and Services Tax on Hajj pilgrimage reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, about Rs 113 crore will be saved by Hajj pilgrims this year, he said.

Reduction in GST on Hajj pilgrimage will ensure significant decrease in air fare from various embarkation points.

Naqvi said that making the Hajj process digital has helped in making it transparent and pro-pilgrims.

The ministry of minority affairs, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia Haj Consulate, Haj Committee of India and other agencies concerned, has completed preparations for the pilgrimage three months before schedule to ensure that the pilgrimage is more comfortable for the pilgrims.

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