Minister for Industries and Urban Affairs P.K. Kunhalikutty has written to Union Minister for Foreign Affairs S.M. Krishna urging him to lift the stipulation that companions of Haj pilgrims aged above 70 years should not have gone for the pilgrimage before.

The government had recently specified that those aged above 70 years would be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage without going through the selection process of drawing of lots. However, it was stipulated that the companions of such persons should be first timers. This was impractical in the Kerala context, as many of them were people who had worked in the Gulf countries, Mr. Kunhalikutty said.

He thanked the Union Minster for allowing those who had crossed 70 years of age, and those who did not get a chance in 2009, 2010 and 2011 despite filing applications, to join the pilgrimage this year without going through the selection process.