[Haj Committee of India CEO Maqsood Khan meeting the protestors led by MLA Asif Shaikh against new Haj Policy Friday November 17, 2017.]
Mumbai: Accusing Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of working as “agent” of Private Tour Operators (PTOs), Muslims led by Congress MLA Asif Shaikh on Friday staged a massive protest at Mumbai’s Haj House.
Following the protest which started soon after Friday afternoon prayers, Haj Committee of India CEO Maqsood Khan rushed to meet the protestors and promised to address their grievances on priority basis.
The protesters however were not convinced and demanded immediate restoration of the earlier Haj policy for Haj 2018.
According to the new Haj Policy, draft of which was presented to the government for consideration in the last month, the government has allowed woman pilgrims without mehram – a male close relative.
The new policy has also dropped the exception from Qurrah – draw to select the final list of Haj pilgrims, the applicants who are applying for the last four years. In addition to this, the government has also agreed to increase by 05% the quota of Private Tour Operators (PTOs), the protestors said.
“There is no sense or logic in increasing the quota of PTOs when number of people willing to perform Haj through Haj Committee of India exceeds far more than its own quota”, Asif Shaikh, Congress MLA from Malegaon who was leading the protest, said.
“It seems Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is working as agent of Private Tour Operators (PTOs). I smell a large scale corruption behind the decision. There is definitely something in the new Haj Policy which should be probed”, he alleged.
Asif Shaikh also demanded immediate restoration of exception granted to those applying consecutively for the last four years. He also demanded from the Haj Committee of India to drop the idea of allowing woman pilgrims without Mehram.
“This is against Islamic principles and Shariah, and the government has already been informed about this. Despite the reservation stated by the community on the issue, the government is enforcing such things”, Asif Shaikh said.
“This is nothing but intimidation and provocation. But, we will in no way accept this”, he added.
Muslim community members are protesting against the New Haj Policy for 2018 ever since it was made public in the last month. Interestingly, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had assured following the protest that the new Haj policy is still in a draft mode, and the government will not impose anything without taking the community into confidence.
The Muslims however were up for a shock when the Haj Committee of India released the Haj Application Form (HAF) for Haj 2018 last week wherein the option for applicants of consecutive 04 years was missing, besides increasing the PTO quota for Haj 2018 by 05%.
India has been allotted a Haj quota of some 170,000 pilgrims by Saudi government. But, the Haj Committee of India receives over 350,000 applications every year.
Haj is performed annually in the memory of Prophet Ibrahim, his noble wife Hager and son Prophet Ismail. More than 2.5 million Muslims from all across the world reach Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj rituals.