Jeddah, January 12: Saudi Arab and India on Wednesday signed the bilateral Haj agreement. According to this agreement, India's annual Haj quota is increased by 34,500 which is the biggest hike in nearly three decades.
The Indian delegation led by Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and the Saudi delegation led by Umrah Minister Dr. Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten inked an agreement in this regard in Jeddah, increasing the size of India's Haj quota from 1,36,020 to 1,70,520.
During the discussion with the Saudi delegation, Naqvi firstly conveyed appreciation for the Haj arrangements for the Haj 2016 and also assured full cooperation for the success of the Haj 2017. Minister Naqvi stated that it is the biggest hike in quota for Haj pilgrims after 1988. The latest increase in quota will be effective from the current year.
Notably, the Saudi authorities in 2012 slashed quotas for foreign pilgrims coming from each country by 20 per cent in view of safety of the devotees as they undertook the expansion of Grand Mosque there. Therefore, India's quota was brought down to 1,36,020 from 1,70,000 in 2012. Last year, a total of 1,35,903 devotees from India performed
The meeting was attended by Ambassador of India Ahmad Javed, Consul General of India Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs Jan-e-Alam, Deputy Consul General and Consul(Haj) Mohd. Shahid Alam, and Deputy Secretary, MOMA, Aftab Alam.
Member of Parliament and Chairman of Haj Committee of India (HCOI) Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser; Chief Executive Officer, HCOI, Ataur Rahman; General Manager, Air India, Rajneesh Duggal; and a representative from Private Tour Operators were also present during the signing of the Bilateral Haj Agreement 2017.