Mumbai: The Haj Committee of India, the apex body responsible for Hajj operations in India, has decided on Tuesday to extend the last date of submission of online and offline Haj Application Forms (HAF) till February 06, 2017.
The decision is taken after requests were made to Central Haj Committee by several State Haj Committees, and other Muslim groups and individuals.
"In view of the representations received from several State Haj Committees, the last date of submission of Haj Application Forms - both online and manual, is hereby extended by about two week's time i.e. up to February 06, 2017", the Haj Committee of India official said on Tuesday.
The Haj Committee of India had initially fixed the closing date of receiving the Haj Application Forms as January 24, 2017.
According to the officials, the Haj Committee of India has already recieved more than 3.5 lakh applications - majority of them through online. Out f them only about 1,30,000 Muslims will be shortlisted to perform Haj in 2017.
India's total quota is about 1,70,000. While about 1,30,000 go through the Haj Committee of India, the remaining go to Haj through Private Tour Operatorts (PTOs).
Earlier, aspiring Haj Pilgrims from across India are appealing the Haj Committee of India to extend the Haj 2017 application deadline at least by a fortnight saying thousands of willing applicants failed to apply because of one and the other reasons.
The online and offline process for Haj 2017 began on January 02, 2017. The Haj Committee of India has set the last date to submit Haj Application Form (HAF) with all requisite documents as January 24, 2017.
"In the wake of Saudi government's decision to restore the earlier allotted quota of the country, more people are willing to travel to Makkah for Haj through the Haj Committee of India. But, due to demonetisation and slowdown in business many of them could not apply as yet", Kifayatullah Khan, a local trader, said.
"Therefore we humbly request the Haj Committee of India to extend the last date of application by at least two weeks", he added.
Similar demands were earlier raised by aspiring pilgrims of other states too.
As hundreds of thousands of Muslims wish to perform Haj every year, the Saudi government in order to limit the crowd during the annual ritual has allotted quotas based on the population of Muslims in different countries. It had in 2012 decided a 20% cut in each country's quota due to the expansion work of the Makkah Haram Mosque.
However, the government in the last month lifted the cut and restored the previously allotted quotas of all countries. This resulted in an increase of about 40,000 Haj pilgrims for India from this year.
The previously allotted quota for India was about 1,70,000 which we went down 1,34,000 due to 20% quota. India in turn allots quota for different states based on the population of Muslims.
Maharshtra which till last year had a quota of about 07,500 will now be able to send about 10,000 pilgrims. But, the Haj Committee of India receives more than 03 times applications than the allotted quota. It is hence the Haj Committee of India holds draw every year and shortlist Haj pilgrims.
According to the schedule released by the Haj Committee of India, the draw for Haj 2017 will be held in the month of March.
Meanwhile, the Haj Committee is recieving applications till tomorrow and interested Muslims should complete registration without delay by using online or offline mode.
The Haj Application Form (HAF) can be downloaded by following the steps given as under:
- Go to Haj Committee of India website by clicking here: www.hajcommittee.gov.in
- Search for 'Haj - 2017 Reltaed Downloads' section in the left of the home page
- Click on 'Download Haj Application Form 2017' link
- Applicant can directly follow the link here to jump directly to HAF Download page
- The Haj Appication Form 2017 should appear on your screen in PDF form
- Fill it, submit it and take a printout for future reference
The government of India earlier launched a new trilingual website to provide all information related to Haj and also accept online application forms for the pilgrimage. The information in the website -- www.haj.gov.in -- can be accessed in Urdu, Hindi and English languages.
According to Ministry of Minority Affairs, the website will facilitate online application for Haj apart from giving information about the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Haj Department, rules and regulations of Haj, the Haj Committee of India and private tour operators.
The website also lists the Dos and Don'ts during the Haj and features a short film informing about various aspects of the pilgrimage, he added.