On Thursday 13th December 2018, an agreement was signed between India and Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrims of 2019 known as the “Bilateral Annual Hajj 2019 Agreement”. It was signed by the Indian Union Minister for Ministry Affair, Government of India Shri. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the Haj & Umra Minister of Kingdom Saudi Arabia, Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Jeddah.
There are many points that need to be highlighted first regarding Hajj 2018,
- The ban that women cannot go to Hajj without a “Mehram” (Mehram is a male companion that should go with a female to Hajj) was lifted up by the Center.
- After the Dismissal of Mehram ban, 1300+ women had completed Hajj without a Mehram in 2018 itself.
- A record no. of Muslims had completed the Hajj after Independence without subsidy (Subsidy is the financial Aid provided by the government to Hajj).
- A total of 1,75,025 Muslims had completed hajj in 2018 in which 48% were women.
Year after year, the relationship between India and Saudi Arabia has become stronger and the credit goes to the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi and the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. Both countries share very strong cultural, historical, economic, and political relations.
In the Bilateral Annual Hajj 2019 Agreement, the following points were brought up:
- More than 2 lakhs 47 thousand people have already applied for Hajj 2019 in which 47% of whom are women.
- 2100+ women have applied to go to Hajj 2019 without a Mehram.
- The online process for applying Hajj has made things convenient and transparent.
- 1 lakh 36 thousand people have already applied for Hajj 2019 online.
- The Indian government asked the Saudi Arabian Ministry to hike the Hajj quota for 2019 over the hajj quota in 2018.
Shri Naqvi said that Ministry of Minority Affairs, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia Hajj Consulate, Hajj Committee of India and other concerned agencies, had completed preparations for Hajj 2018 about 2 months before schedule in order to ensure smooth Hajj pilgrimage. This time, preparations for Hajj 2019 had been started 3 months before schedule to make this Hajj more comfortable for the pilgrims.
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