“Haj subsidy will be used for the welfare of the Muslims girls,” says the government
New Delhi: On Tuesday the Union Minister for Minorities Affair, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced that the Centre would phase out the subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Two months ago the Ministry had decided to end the policy of subsidies for the Haj pilgrimage, following the 2012 Supreme Court’s order.
“It is part of the Modi government’s efforts to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Mr. Naqvi said to the media outside the BJP headquarters.
Government decision came before 2022
In 2012 Supreme Court asked the government to phase out the subsidies for the Haj by 2022 ( around 500 crore annually ) and the money saved should be diverted for the welfare services across the nation. The then ruling government ( UPA government ) decided to phase out the subsidies by decreasing the subsidies funds by 10% every year.
“Saved money will be used for girls education”
The present ruling government ( NDA government ) believe that it would be useless to wait for 10 years. In November Mr. Naqvi told The Hindu that his Ministry and the government had a huge responsibility towards the Minorities and the saved money will be used for the education of the girl child ( Muslim community ).
“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime in 2012, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with. Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” he said.
New Haj Policy
A committee headed by a former bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah, comes up with a new Haj policy and had suggested that women Hajis be allowed to perform the pilgrimage without male escort, or mehram. At first, a batch of over 1300 women will perform the annual pilgrimage of Haj from India without a mehram this year.
“Woman Haj assistants would accompany them and arrangements have been made,” Mr. Naqvi said.
1.75 lakhs will go on for Haj pilgrimage this Year
Mr. Naqvi also confirmed that despite the subsidy being withdrawn, a record of 1.75 lakhs Muslims would be going on the Haj pilgrimage from India this year. He added that the Saudi Arabian government has agreed in principle to allow the Haj journey from India by ships and the matter would soon be deliberated upon.
Decision welcomed by AIMIM:
The AIMIM leader, Asaduddin Owaisi had demanded earlier that the subsidies should be removed as he believe that it was used to sustain airlines company only. Moreover he demanded that the money saved should be used for social activities like educating girls and opening more schools and hostels for themselves.
Meanwhilehe also demanded that the government should also phase out the subsidies for Hindu pilgrims in different parts of the country.