FOR THE first time in the last one decade, the Uttar Pradesh Haj Committee has received lesser number of applications than its scheduled quota for state-sponsored Haj pilgrimage. While the last date of submitting the applications for the 2018 Haj pilgrimage is December 7, the committee has received around 19,000 applications till the morning of December 6 for its quota of around 29,000 seats. On Wednesday, the state body wrote to Haj Committee of India, seeking an extension of the last date of submission.
Last year, against the quota of around 29,000 seats allotted to the state by the Central Haj Committee, the state unit had received over 51,000 applications. Similarly, in 2016, it had received about 48,000 applications against then allotted quota of about 21,000. In 2015, it had received about 41,000 applications against the quota of around 22,000 seats.
R P Singh, secretary of UP Haj Committee, said: “There could be various reasons for the low turnout. Local body elections could have been behind the slow submission of application forms. Or this time, while applications were to be submitted from November 15 to December 7, in the past few years, it used to be in January.” He added, “However, we had widely publicised the new dates. We have written to all madrasas and also informed the people through newspapers in districts about the dates.”
“Even other states are facing a similar problem… Thus, we have written to the central committee for extension of the date. We hope to receive more applications in the next few days,” said Singh. Gujarat Haj Committee secretary I M Shaikh, too, reportedly has written to the Haj Committee of India, requesting for an extension. Among reasons, he has cited low applications, said officials.
Sources said there could have been another reason for the low turnout in UP. “The Central Haj committee had done away with the process of giving reservation or preference to those who had applied four times in the past, but were not selected. So, those who used to apply, thinking that they might get preference in the fifth year, have not applied this time,” said an official.
Haj quota for a state is decided according to its population and the overall quota that India has received. “Since the quota given to India is the same as last year, the quota for Haj pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh is likely to remain around 29,000 like last year,” said an official, adding that the state is yet to be informed of its quota for 2018.