Haj subsidy removed: Cong says actual beneficiary will be airlines, not Hajis

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba the cubic building at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca

As per reports, the Haj subsidy was Rs 700 crore when the current government came to power in 2014. The panel was constituted after the Supreme Court in its 2012 order had said that the subsidy should be withdrawn gradually by 2022. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia had hiked India's Haj quota.

"I am asking the BJP, the Prime Minister and the RSS if Haj subsidy was appeasement, then what was Rs 1,150 crore allotted in 2014 for the Kumbh mela, Rs 100 crore given by the Modi government previous year to Madhya Pradesh government for Simhastha maha kumbh and Rs 3,400 crore spent by Madhya Pradesh for the same". Each year, lakhs of Haj pilgrims are granted financial subsidy by the Centre. Women also generally wear white, covering full body except their faces and hands. Each Haj trips somewhere around Rs.3-4 lakhs per person. Restrictions on pilgrims having to take flights from their place of stay or nearest airports have been relaxed and this will lead to cheaper air travel, Naqvi said. They would go without traditional male guardian (Mehram) but be accompanied with "Mahila officers".

"When we say development with dignity, then we must also say Haj with Dignity". But instead of stopping that in a phased manner, the Union government has stopped it all on a sudden. However, Saudi Arabia has now allowed waterways travel for Indians. In 2017, the airfare for the pilgrimage from Srinagar was Rs 1,09,692 as against Rs 73,697 from Delhi. "This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement", Naqvi said and cited a host of measures for the welfare of minorities. The subsidy is managed by the Ministry of Minorities. The party also mentioned that the actual beneficiaries would now be airlines and not the Hajis.

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"We believed that the subsidy had become a means to exploit Muslims, and did not benefit the community in any way, so the review committee recommended its abolition", said Kamal Faruqui, member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), who was on the review committee.

The monopoly of these airlines has proven to be the most contentious point of the subsidy.

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