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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

SPECIAL REPORTS

Mushawarat calls for the liberalisation of Haj

Syed Shahabuddin, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), called upon the government to withdraw the Haj quota. In a statement issued on 5 October, he said that the current comfortable position of foregin exchange reserves does not support the case for a quota.

The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) has taken note of the fact that the demand for Haj is rising but it is still below the informal limit of 1% of Muslim population, prescribed by the Saudi Arabian authorities, the satement said. The Indian quota is of the order of 150,000 but the number of aspirants for 2005 Haj is of the order of 100,000. Secondly, the Haj quota was introduced when our country was facing a difficult foreign exchange situation. Today we have overflowing foreign exchange reserves and the current regulations allow liberal release of foreign exchange for foreign travel. The average cost of Haj comes to about US$1,500, much below the foreign exchange quota freely admissible to any Indian national traveling abroad, the statement said adding that any restriction in the number of Haj pilgrims is unreasonable and should be lifted forthwith. Syed Shahabuddin further asked the government to allow all applicants who have filed their applications either to Haj Committee or enlisted with Haj Operators in time and who are otherwise eligible to perform the Haj."

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