Centre withdraws Haj subsidy; Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says funds will be used to empower Muslims

FP Staff
The Centre has withdrawn the subsidy for Haj pilgrimage, Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced on Tuesday.

The Centre has withdrawn the subsidy for Haj pilgrimage, Minority Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has announced on Tuesday. The Haj subsidy is a subsidy that the Indian government gives to Indian Muslim Hajj pilgrims in the form of discounted flight prices on Air India.

Naqvi said that 1.75 lakh Muslims will be going on the pilgrimage this year, which is the highest number of people going on Haj pilgrimage from India.Naqvi also said that the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Haj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise the modalities.

"This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement," Naqvi told reporters and cited a host of measures for the welfare of minorities.

Naqvi was quoted by The Tribune as saying that the subsidy given on Haj when the BJP government came to power was Rs 700 crore . He said that the main beneficiary of the subsidy was the Air India.

In October 2017, Naqvi had said the next Haj pilgrimage would be in line with the new policy, which he described as "better, transparent and one ensuring the safety of pilgrims". In 2012, the Supreme Court had struck down the policy of giving subsidies to Haj pilgrims and directed that it be progressively "eliminated" within ten years.

"We hold that this policy is best done away with," a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Ranjana Prakash Desai had held.

According to The Hindu, the review committee on the Haj services had decided to end the subsidy in early 2018 during a meeting in November 2017. The panel comprised seniors officials of the Ministry for Minority Affairs, Civil Aviation Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs and the Haj Committee of India.

"The decision is in consonance with the Supreme Court order... Subsidy is only one aspect of the government's responsibility with regard to Haj, we are committed to a more transparent and open system for sending pilgrims and their safety and security while they perform the pilgrimage," Naqvi was then quoted as saying by The Hindu.

With inputs from PTI View More