Mumbai, April 26: A Maharashtra minister Thursday urged the central government to demand an additional quota for Haj pilgrims for India based on the country's current Muslim population.
Minority Affairs Minister Arif Naseem Khan lamented that the Central Haj Committee and the Indian government have not succeeded in getting enhanced Haj quota for India despite an increase in the Muslim population here.
"The present Haj quota - around 170,000 per annum - is much less than the actual population and based on the 2001 figures of Muslim population. Lakhs submit applications to perform the Haj pilgrimage, but get rejected repeatedly," Khan said while drawing the lots of the lucky applicants selected for the next Haj season at Haj House here.
He urged the central government to demand a higher quota based on the current Muslim population which would enable more faithful get an opportunity to perform Haj pilgrimage, considered a must in the life of every Muslim.
Of the quota of 170,000 pilgrims, 125,000 go through the Haj Committees, while the remaining around 45,000 go through private Haj tour operators.
Based on the population figure, Maharashtra has a quota of 10,763 divided among various districts based on the percentage of Muslim population.
Of the more than 41,311 applications received by the Maharashtra Haj Committee, 5,512 were selected while the remaining slots went to applicants aged above 70, or those who had applied four or more times consecutively but were not selected.
Besides the Haj House in Mumbai, the government has opened a similar Haj House in Nagpur while another one in Aurangabad is nearing completion.
Around 3.50 million Muslims from all over the world converge in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj every year and visit Makkah and Madinah as per part of the pilgrimage.