Women going for Haj without ‘mehram’ exempt from lucky draw

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New Delhi, Dec 31  Muslim women who have applied to go for Haj without a ‘mehram (husband or a male first blood relation as guardian) this year have been exempted from the lucky draw system that the Haj Committee operates, the government said on Sunday.

This means that all the 1,300-odd women who have applied for Haj will be able to travel with no quota restrictions.

The announcement by the Minority Affairs Ministry came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ said that women should get equal opportunities as men.

As per the new Haj policy, women can now travel for Haj without a mehram in groups of four. Earlier, women were barred from performing Haj alone.

“Thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modiji for mentioning in today’s (Sunday) Mann Ki Baat the decision of Minority Affairs Ministry to lift ban on women going for Haj without mehram,” Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.

“After the Prime Minister’s suggestion, I assure that those about 1,300 women who have applied to go for Haj without mehram, will be exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed on Haj,” Naqvi said.

Normally, the Haj Committee of India (HCI) finalises the names of pilgrims who can go for Haj from the HCI quota through a lucky draw as it receives applications many times more than India’s fixed quota of around 1,70,000 pilgrims.

Earlier in the day, Modi, in his radio address said: “I noticed that if a Muslim woman wanted to go for the Haj pilgrimage, they cannot go without a mehram.”

“And when I enquired about it, I came to know that it was we who have have restricted them for going alone for the Haj. This practice is not followed in many of the Islamic countries,” he said.

“Till date, 1,300 women have applied to travel for the Haj without any Mehram,” the Prime Minister said, adding that “they should get equal opportunity as the men get”.