Lucknow, July 9 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Monday lodged cases against 176 people whose names were included in the list of those approved for the Haj pilgrimage through fraudulent means, a minister said.
In addition the government has also ordered lodging FIRs against officers and agencies who 'slipped' the names of these people in the list.
Making the announcement at a press conference, Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan said that he suspected that something was wrong with the list and had ordered an internal probe into the matter.
It was found that the list had names of 158 people, who were on the waiting list, while 18 others found their way into the final list though they had not even formally applied for the pilgrimage.
Khan, who is also the head of the state Haj Committee, further announced that all people, groups and agencies involved in the racket would be permanently blacklisted.
He added that this scam had been going on for the last five years by manipulating the computer software meant to prepare the list of Haj pilgrims.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had last month requested the central government to increase the quota of Haj pilgrims from the state.In a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he requested that the state be allowed to send at least 32,532 people on Haj, maintaining the quota of 2011.
As per the nationwise quota allotted by Saudi Arabia, India sends the third largest contingent of Haj pilgrims, out of which a fourth go from Uttar Pradesh.
In his letter, Akhilesh Yadav noted that in 2011, the number of pilgrims from the state was 32,532. This year the Haj Committee of India allocated a quota of 29,388 pilgrims, which is 3,144 less than last year, the chief minister said.
Azam Khan had written to Haj Committee of India Chairman Mohsina Kidwai May 7, requesting her to maintain last year's quota. The state has received 36,754 applications for the pilgrimage this year.
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