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Centre ends Haj subsidy

Centre ends Haj subsidy
Highlights

In a big move, the Central government on Tuesday withdrew subsidy for Haj pilgrims. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi making this...

New Delhi: In a big move, the Central government on Tuesday withdrew subsidy for Haj pilgrims. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi making this announcement, said that “Haj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of minority community.”

Naqvi told reporters that despite the subsidy withdrawal, a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year. The decision to abolish Haj subsidy comes day after the government had allowed Muslim women, above the age of 45, to go on Haj without male guardian, in a group of at least four.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs had, last year, constituted a committee to review the existing Haj policy and suggest a framework for a new Haj policy for 2018-22. Naqvi said 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 said and cited a host of measures for the welfare of minorities.

Last year, Naqvi had said the Centre would abolish the subsidy for Haj pilgrims in accordance with a Supreme Court order. “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 had said. The Haj subsidy is given to Muslim Haj pilgrims by the government in form of discounted fares on Air India.

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