Saudi hajj minister calls for bolstering ties with India
Minister Bandar Hajjar made the remarks while receiving the Indian Haj goodwill delegation
Saudi Hajj Minister Bandar Hajjar underscored the need to further strengthen the excellent bilateral relations between the Kingdom and India.
The minister made the remarks while receiving the Indian hajj goodwill delegation, headed by Arif Baig, at his office in Jeddah on Tuesday.
Hajjar has accepted an invitation extended by the delegation to visit India.
Baig said the new government in India was looking forward to further boosting bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
He congratulated the Saudi authorities for providing the best ever services and facilities to the pilgrims, especially the ongoing, largest ever expansion of the Two Holy Mosques.
During the talks that lasted over half an hour, the delegation demanded an increase in quota of Indian pilgrims.
The reception was also attended by Abdul Rashid Ansari, the lone member of the delegation, Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, Consul General B.S. Mubarak, Deputy Consul General and Hajj Consul Sheikh Md. Noor Rahman and Mohammad Raghib Qureshi, consul education and head of chancery.
Baig is a former central minister and leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party from Madhya Pradesh state, while Ansari, who hails from Delhi, is the president of the party’s minority wing.
Previously India had sent jumbo good will delegations for hajj every year. Due to the intervention of the Supreme Court, the delegation was reduced to two in 2012 from 75 in the previous year.
In 2013, the then Indian health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was the head delegation, in which Rao was the lone member. All this year’s 1.36 million hajj pilgrims from India have reached Saudi Arabia, said Mubarak.
This story was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014.