Mumbai: Of the total 1,308 women from India who will embark on Haj journey in 2018 without Mehram – a male guardian, a maximum 1,124 are from Kerala, according to the Haj Committee of India.
Kerala is followed by Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
While a total of 32 women pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh have applied to embark on their Haj journey without Mehram, 28 are from Tamil Nadu, 24 are from Karnataka and 16 are from Maharashtra.
Women from other Indian states who are willing to perform Haj without accompanying a male guardian are 12 from Rajasthan, 08 from Pondicherry and 04 each from Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
A total of 175,025 pilgrims from India will perform Haj in 2018.
Taking advantage of the amendments by the Saudi Government to issue visa to women above 45 years of age without male guardian if they are applying in a group of 04, Modi government decided to allow such women in its list of haj pilgrims.
To further attract more and more women to take advantage of the latest decision, the government decided to exempt “women without Mehram” from the Haj Qurrah – draw of lots to select haj pilgrims.
However the government decisions received a lukewarm response from the community as only 1,308 women decided to take advantage of the relaxation.
Worst, not a single woman from Gujarat - Narendra Modi’s home state, applied under the new category, leaving the Prime Minister embarrassed as during the Gujarat state elections he had termed historic the government’s decision to allow women to embark on Haj journey without Mehram.
Like Gujarat, none of the women from Haryana, West Bengal, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana and Delhi NCR have shown any interest in the new category.
In fact, the government’s decision to allow women without Mehrum, even though it had a sanction of the Saudi government, was criticized from the day one as there is difference of opinion on the matter.
While some agree with the Saudi government and favour the decision to allow women perform Haj without Mehrum, there are others who have exactly opposite view.
They say Islam does not allow women to travel without male guardian and any violation of this rule is not advisable especially for a journey such as Haj which is solely a religious affair.
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