India asks Saudi to reconsider Haj quota cut

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) India has sought a hike in the Haj quota and also requested Saudi Arabia to reconsider its decision of slashing the numbers of Haj pilgrims, an official said Tuesday.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here Tuesday that India is in regular dialogue with the Saudi authorities in view of the growth in numbers of Indians wanting to go for the annual pilgrimage.

Last year over 1,25,000 Indian pilgrims went for Haj.

Akbaruddin added that India has indicated to the kingdom that India will “require slightly larger numbers” this year.

To a query regarding 20 percent reduction in Haj quota for all pilgrims coming from outside, the spokesperson said later that India has been informed by the Saudi government “that they intend to bring about reduction of 50 percent internal pilgrims from Saudi Arabia for the Haj and 20 percent from all pilgrims overseas”.

“Given the fact that the processes for Haj pilgrimage have already been initiated, we have requested the Saudi authorities both in Delhi and in Riyadh to reconsider their decision taking into account the advanced stage of preparations. We are awaiting a response from them,” he added.

According to an answer last year by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to the Rajya Sabha on Haj quota: “As per bilateral Haj agreement signed between Government of India and Saudi Arabia, the quota allocated to India for Haj-2012 was 1,70,000 with 1,25,000 to go through the Haj Committee of India (HCOI) and 45,000 through Private Tour Operators (PTOs).”

–Indo-Asian News service

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