this special category was introduced by the Modi government a year ago, according to official figures.
Despite the new law allowing Muslim women aged above 45 years to go for Hajj without mehram in groups of four or more, the state hajj committee (SHC) has not received a single application in this category.
More than 2300 women from India will go on Hajj this year without mehram or male companion as all those who applied under this category have been exempted from the draw of lots system.
Chief executive officer, J&K Hajj committee, Qammar Sajjad confirmed to Greater Kashmir that no female pilgrim had applied under ‘without mehram category’ for undertaking the holy pilgrimage.
The central government last year allowed women to go to Hajj without mehram, which had resulted in around 1,300 Muslim women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system.
It took the government three years and a recommendation by a high-powered committee to change its own rules in line with Saudi government’s decision to allow women above 45 years in groups of four or more to go for Hajj without mehram.
In 2014, when Saudi Arabia carried out its annual updating of Hajj guidelines, the rule on not allowing women without a male companion was changed, subject to the condition that they travelled in a group and were above 45 years.
State Hajj Committee held the Hajj Qurrah or draw of lots Tuesday and finalised the list of pilgrims scheduled to perform Hajj this year.
A total of 9,762 aspirants were selected during the Qurrah, officials said.
The Hajj officer said the quota for the pilgrimage was increased by 3762, saying at least 1702 elderly aspirants were selected without Qurrah.
About aspirants who are in the waiting list, he said the trend of applicants across the country is less this year, therefore there are more chances for 1000-1500 aspirants who are in waiting list to perform Hajj this year.
Further, the government of India has slashed Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Hajj pilgrimage from 18 percent to 5 percent, and it will ensure savings of Rs 113 crore.
The reduction will bring the airfare down for pilgrims embarking from Srinagar by Rs 11,377
Source: Grater Kashmir