Fall in number of Haj Pilgrims from North East due to NRC updation in Assam

Guwahati, July 12: The number of Haj pilgrims from the Northeast is comparatively low as compared to the previous years as most of the people are busy with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) related work or are waiting for the publication of the final draft.

According to the North East Haj Pilgrims’ Reception Committee, this year, altogether 3,357 pilgrims from the region – a drop of around 900 from last year – will undertake the journey. A total of 3,272  pilgrims from Assam will undertake the journey this year.

The pilgrims will leave from here on Saturday and will return from Jeddah on August 27, informed the Committee.

Out of the 3,357 pilgrims, 2,302 are men and 1,055 are women. The highest number of pilgrims are from Cachar (376), followed by Karimganj (351) and Hailakandi (268), according to the Committee.

“The withdrawal of the government subsidy has led to increase in cost by around Rs 40,000 per pilgrim, which is also responsible for the drop in the number of applicants. The increase in various taxes in Saudi Arabia and demonetization in India are also some of the reasons for the decrease in the number of pilgrims,” Nekibur Zaman, executive chairman of North East Haj Pilgrims’ Reception Committee, said.

The Assam government will provide around 4,000 gamosas to Haj pilgrims as a mark of identity.

For pilgrims who want to travel from Calcutta, the state government has prepared a special plane and Legislators Aminul Haque Laskar and Anwar Hussain Laskar will be present in Calcutta for assisting these pilgrims.

The Haj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims.