By: Abid Bashir
Srinagar, Dec 08: In a major decision taken by the Haj Committee of India (HCoI), for the Haj 2023, two lakh pilgrims will be allowed to perform the sacred pilgrimage from India with special focus on women. With the increase in Haj quota, the number of pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir will also be more compared to previous years.
Official announcement in this regard will be made shortly. This is for the first time that two lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj 2023. Talking to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), exclusively, member HCoI, Er Aijaz Hussain said that HCoI after thorough consultations with the Saudi Arabia Government’s Haj ministry, has decided to allow two lakh pilgrims from India for the Haj 2023. “The Haj quota has been increased and for the year 2023, two lakh pilgrims will perform the holy pilgrimage,” he said. “In Haj 2023, special focus will be on women pilgrims.”
Asked whether the J&K will also have an enhanced Haj quota, Er Aijaz said that the number of pilgrims from UT will obviously be more than the previous years given increase in Haj quota.
He said it was after hectic efforts by the HCoI that the Haj quota for India was increased to two lakh. “We are also working to make Haj 2023 cheaper and smooth compared to previous pilgrimages,” Er Aijaz said.
He said that HCoI has already decided to ensure more embankment points to facilitate pilgrims in a friendly manner. “Pilgrims will have a choice to choose the embankment points of their choice,” he said. He said that in Haj 2023, special focus will also be on women pilgrims. “Earlier, many women aspiring to go for Haj without ‘mehram’ faced a lot of issues. We will address their issues and allow them to perform the Haj smoothly,” Er Aijaz said.
Reliable sources in the HCoI said that it was after a series of meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi followed by the brainstorming sessions where feedback taken by the pilgrims from various parts of the country was discussed and strategies formed to plug the loopholes. They said that in the upcoming Haj, pilgrims will be facilitated in a more efficient manner.
Pertinently, after the resumption of Haj in 2022 after two years of break due to Covid pandemic, only 80,000 Indian Muslims performed Haj. All of them had to undergo Covid vaccination and take along the vaccination certificate as part of mandatory documents.
Sources said that in Haj 2023, pilgrims will be also allowed to bring sacred water called ‘Zam Zam’ without any hassle or hindrance. “Each pilgrim will be allowed to bring 5 kg Zam Zam. HCoI will fully facilitate the process of providing Zam Zam water to each pilgrim,” he said—(KNO)