Naqvi discusses Indian Haj pilgrim issue with Saudi envoy

New Delhi [India], May 1 (ANI): Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to India Dr. Saud Mohammed Alsati on Monday and discussed various issues related to about 170000 pilgrims from India going for Haj 2017.

A total of 1,70, 025 people will go on the Haj pilgrimage this year from India out of which 1,25,025 pilgrims will go through Haj Committee of India while 45,000 people will go through private tour operators.

Naqvi said bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia have been further strengthened under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said that facilities of Haj pilgrims, especially their safety, is India's top priority.

He thanked Riyadh for increasing India's annual Haj quota by 34,005. It is the biggest increase in the quota of Haj pilgrims from India after several years.

They also discussed about reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through the sea route. Shri Naqvi said that sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to air fares.

The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped in 1995.

Naqvi said his ministry is in constant touch with the Saudi Arabian government, Haj Committee of India, Air India and other concerned agencies to take stock of various facilities. (ANI)