Saudi Arabia says no to India's request for hike in Haj quota

Saudi Arabia says no to India's  request for hike in Haj quota

Many devotees keen to perform Haj in 2015 are disappointed as the works to add to the grandeur of the Grand Mosque in Mecca are still on and Saudi Arabia cannot accommodate more pilgrims.

New Delhi’s plea to raise the Haj quota for pilgrims from India has been turned down by Saudi Arabian government, which cited the ongoing project to expand the Al-Masjid al-Harām (the Grand Mosque) in Mecca as the reason for its inability to accept any such request from any country.

The Saudi Arabian government maintained India’s Haj quota for 2015 at last year’s level.  New Delhi had requested that the quota be raised to 1,41,890 in view of the latest estimate of Muslim population in the country, but Riyadh agreed to allow only 1,36,020 pilgrims as in 2014.

“The Saudi Arabian Government has conveyed that due to Haram Sharif expansion project, they would not be able to increase the quota for any country for Haj 2015,” Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

“As and when the quota allocated by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India is increased, the same would be passed on to the state according to the existing norms,” he stated, in response to a query from Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party MP, Mehbooba Mufti.  The Saudi Arabian Government embarked on a project to expand the Grand Mosque in 2007 to raise the capacity of the shrine to accommodate at least two million devotees at a time.

A large number of devotees from around the world reach the Grand Mosque, which surrounds the Kaaba – the holiest place in Islam. The number, of course, swells during Haj.

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