New Delhi: The central government has withdrawn the subsidy given to Haj pilgrims. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the decision is in line with the government’s agenda to empower miniorities without appeasement.
Naqvi said that for the first time in independent India, 1.75 lakh pilgrims will go to Haj without a subsidy, a rise from the 1.25 lakh that went for the annual pilgrimage last year.
The union minister said the government would save Rs 700 crore by stopping the subsidy, and would use the funds for education of minorities, particularly girls.
The decision to abolish Haj subsidy comes just a day after government allowed Muslim women above the age of 45 to go on the pilgrimage without a male guardian, in groups of at least four.
The minority affairs ministry had last year constituted a committee to review the existing Haj policy and suggest a framework for a new Haj policy for 2018-22.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Kamal Farooqui welcomed the move, saying that a wrong impression was being created that Muslims were gaining from the government aid. “Instead, it was national carrier Air India that was the biggest beneficiary of this government scheme,” he said.