No draw of lots, all Hajj-2024 applicants from J&K secure spots

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Srinagar, Jan 15: In a remarkable departure from tradition, the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2024 from Jammu and Kashmir will see no draw of lots as all applicants will be selected automatically.

This unprecedented move comes as the number of Hajj aspirants falls below the total seats allocated by the Centre for J&K.

Traditionally, J&K faced the challenge of accommodating two times more aspirants than the available seats, necessitating a draw of lots.

However, in a notable twist, the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage season will witness no such draw, as the number of applicants stands at a mere 7800, while the allotted seats for Jammu and Kashmir exceed a substantial 11,000.

In the year 2023, J&K witnessed a surge in Hajj applications, with the number soaring above 14,500.

Of this substantial figure, approximately 12,000 individuals successfully embarked on the sacred pilgrimage and were selected after the draw of lots.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Executive Officer J&K Hajj Committee, Shujat Ahmad Qureshi shed light on the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

“Despite an allocated quota of 9500 seats and an additional 2000 seats, making the total allotment 11,500, the number of applications received stands at a mere 7800 till January 15 which is the last date for submission of applications. This imbalance implies that for the first time, all applicants will be accommodated without the need for a draw of lots, marking a distinctive departure from previous practices,” he said.

Qureshi disclosed that the first flight for the Hajj pilgrimage in 2024 is scheduled to depart from the Srinagar embarkation point on May 9.

Notably, last year, 12,052 individuals undertook the sacred journey from the same embarkation point.

When probed about the decline in applications, the Executive Officer attributed it primarily to financial constraints, citing the escalating cost of the Hajj pilgrimage as a significant deterrent.

Last year, Hajj pilgrims departing from the Srinagar embarkation point were required to pay Rs 4.13 lakh per person, representing a notable increase from previous years.

Qureshi said that the final rate for this year’s pilgrimage is yet to be announced, pending the conclusion of tenders for air tickets and other associated activities.

The Indian government recently signed a Bilateral Hajj Agreement for the year 2024 with Saudi Arabia, marking a significant development in the facilitation of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The agreement sets a total quota of 1,75,025 pilgrims from India for Hajj 2024, with 1,40,020 seats reserved for the Hajj Committee of India and 35,005 for Hajj Group Operators.

The agreement also appreciates and supports the initiative of the Indian government to encourage the participation of women pilgrims without a Mehram (male companion).

The established Hajj policy granted special consideration to certain groups.

Specifically, applicants aged above 70 and women without a Mehram (male guardian) were accorded first preference, exempting them from the draw of lots.

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