New Delhi, June 30 : The year 2018 that began with the end of Haj subsidy has been marked by a record 175,025 Indians heading for Saudi Arabia and is also distinct for a record 47 per cent women among the pilgrims including 1,308 without their 'mehram' (male companion).
"For the first time after the Independence, record 1,75,025 Muslims from India are going to Haj this year.
These include record more than 47 per cent female pilgrims," Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said addressing an orientation cum training camp here.
Despite removal of Haj subsidy and various new taxes imposed in Saudi Arabia, a lot of Muslims from India are going to Haj this year that too without any additional financial burden, he said.
In fact, the airlines will be getting Rs 57 crore less this year from the passengers.
"Even after ending the Haj subsidy, airlines will be paid Rs 57 crore less ..Last year Rs 1,030 crore was paid to airlines as air fare for 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims and this year Rs 973 crore will be paid for 1,28,702 Haj pilgrims going through Haj Committee of India," Naqvi said.
For the first time, choice of embarkation points has been given to Haj pilgrims which has received overwhelming response.
The minister said a total of 3,55,604 applications was received for Haj 2018 which included 1,89,217 male and 1,66,387 female applicants.
"For the first time a total of 1,308 women Muslim women from India are going to Haj without 'mehram'," he told the Haj Coordinators, Assistant Haj Officers, Haj Assistants and medical personnel including 98 women staff who are deployed to assist the pilgrims.
Representatives from Minority Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry and Urban Development Ministry informed in detail, various issues concerned to Haj, pilgrims, their health, safety and accommodation during the camp, the ministry said in a statement.
Flights for Haj will start from July 14, when pilgrims from Delhi, Gaya, Guwahati, Lucknow and Srinagar will embark on pilgrimage.
On July 17 pilgrims from Kolkata, July 20 from Varanasi, July 21 from Mangalore, July 26 from Goa and on July 29 pilgrims from Aurangabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Nagpur will embark on Haj, he added.
Pilgrims from Ranchi will leave for Haj on July 30, from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Hyderabad and Jaipur on August 1, and from Bhopal on August 3.