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Treat applications of women going alone on Haj as special: PM

DH News Service, New Delhi, Dec 31 2017, 19:21 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters File Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters File Photo

The application of each Muslim woman willing to embark on the annual Haj pilgrimage without a 'mahram' (male companion) will be processed as a special case.

The central government will not conduct "lottery" for processing such applications, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during his 'Mann Ki Baat' radio address on Sunday.

At another event, the prime minister, in his first remarks on the issue of instant triple talaq, said Muslim women have "finally" found a way to "free" themselves from the practice after "years of hardship".

His comments on the issue of triple talaq comes after a bill seeking to criminalise the age-old practice got clearance from the Lok Sabha on December 28.

Many Opposition members objected to the bill during a debate on the proposed legislation in the Lok Sabha, saying criminalising triple talaq will only break families and leave Muslim women more troubled.

The bill is now due to be tabled and cleared by the Rajya Sabha.

"I have suggested to the Ministry of Minority Affairs that they should ensure that all women who have applied to travel alone be allowed to perform Haj. Usually, there is a lottery system for selection of Haj pilgrims but I would like the single woman pilgrims to be excluded from this lottery system and they should be given a chance as a special category," the prime minister said.

The Centre, earlier this year, had lifted a ban on Muslim women going for Haj without "mehram".

"When I first heard about it, I wondered how it could be possible. Who would have drafted such rules? Why this discrimination? And when I went into the depth of the matter, I was surprised to find that even after seventy years of our independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions. For decades, injustice was being rendered to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it," the prime minister said.

Muslim women in India did not have right to perform Haj without a 'mahram' even though this practice did not exist in "many" Islamic countries, he said.

"And I'm glad that our government paid heed to this matter," he said.

About 1,300 Muslim women have so far applied for embarking on Haj pilgrimage without 'mahram' from different parts of the country, he said, expressing his happiness.

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