Haj Subsidy Withdrawn, Government Says Muslims Didn't Benefit From It
NEW DELHI: Subsidy given to thousands of Haj pilgrims each year will be scrapped, the government announced today, saying the big move would help empower Muslims with dignity. "We believe in empowerment without appeasement," said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is Minister for Minority Affairs.
The minister said a record 1.75 lakh Muslims would go on the Haj pilgrimage this year even after the subsidy is withdrawn.
"Muslims didn't benefit from it. Development with dignity is what we believe in. The subsidy will be used for educating girls," Mr Naqvi said.
Mr Naqvi also said that the Saudi Arabian government had agreed to allow people to go on the Haj by ships, which are cheaper than flights. Officials of the two countries would together finalise the arrangement.
The minister had said earlier that the Centre would abolish the subsidy for Haj pilgrims in keeping with a Supreme Court order in 2012.
"A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime, 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.