GUWAHATI, July 13: A large number of Muslims from the State have dropped their plans to visit Mecca this year to perform Haj (annual pilgrimage) due to their pre-occupation with the ongoing NRC verification and update exercise.
Nekibur Zaman, executive chairman of North East Haj Pilgrims’ Reception Committee, told this reporter that the number of Haj pilgrims has declined this year as many people from Assam are now busy with the NRC-related work and waiting for publication of the complete draft to see their names enrolled in the citizenship document. The complete draft NRC will be published on July 31.
Altogether 3,357 pilgrims from the region, including 3,272 from Assam, will go to Mecca this year, a drop of around 900 from last year.
A member of the North East Haj Pilgrims’ Reception Committee said a large number of Muslims, particularly from lower Assam and Barak Valley who planned their pilgrimage to Mecca in 2018, have cancelled their plans due to their engagement in NRC verification exercise. He said names of all those who cancelled their pilgrimage plans did not figure in the partial draft NRC published on midnight of December 31, 2017 as their applications were in various stages of verification.
“The withdrawal of government subsidy has led to increase in cost by around Rs 40,000 per pilgrims, which is also responsible for the drop in the number of applicants,” the member said.
Of the 3,357 pilgrims, 2,302 are men and 1,055 are women. The highest number of 376 pilgrims are from Cachar district, followed by 351 from Karimganj and 268 pilgrims from Hailakandi district. The pilgrims will leave for Mecca from the city on Saturday and the return journey from Jeddah will be on August 27.