In the wake of the new Haj policy, a total of 1300 women from around the country have applied to perform Haj without ‘mehram’ or male guardian, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

Addressing the 39th edition of his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, Modi said the discriminatory policy was in practice even after 70 years of independence but the minority affairs minister has finally put an end to it.

“It had come to our notice that if a Muslim woman wants to go on Haj, she must have a mehram or a male guardian, otherwise she cannot travel. It was discriminatory and we have changed this rule,” said Modi in this year’s last ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

“Today, Muslim women can perform Haj without mehram and I am happy to note that this time about 1300 Muslim women have applied to perform Haj without mehram,” he added.

Modi further proposed that single women pilgrims should be excluded from the lottery system for selection of Haj pilgrims.

“Usually there is a lottery system for selection of Haj pilgrims but I would like that single women pilgrims should be excluded from this lottery system,” he said.

As per the new Haj policy, women above 45 years of age can apply to go on Haj without a mehram. The recommendation was made by a committee constituted by the minority ministry earlier this year to streamline the country’s Haj policy.

However, the recommendation has drawn flak from a number of prominent Muslim clerics and organisations who called it “un-Islamic” and “against the Sharia”.