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PDF decries national carrier's monoploy to ferry Haj pilgrims

Written by: Staff
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Lucknow, Aug 30 (UNI) People's Democratic Front (PDF) today demanded that the national carrier's ''monopoly'' be broken in ferrying Haj pilgrims and an open tender system be floated to benefit the poor Muslims.

Addressing a news conference here, PDF general secretary and All India Muslim Forum (AIMF) chairperson Nehaluddin said the government only provided a subsidy of Rs 12,000 on Rs 85,000 ticket to each Haj pilgrim on Air India and Indian flights.

''However, private airliners fly the distance for Rs 60,000 to Rs 65,000, against the ticket price of Rs 73,000, excluding the subsidy,'' he said..

Mr Nehaluddin claimed once an open tender was floated to ferry over a lakh Haj pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh every year, the ticket price could even fall below Rs 55,000.

He also assailed the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to file an affidavit in the High Court over a PIL filed in 1996 demanding waiving of subsidy to Haj pilgrims.

Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court had recently barred the central and state governments from funding or providing financial subsidy for Haj pilgrimage.

A Bench comprising Justices A K Yog and O N Khandelwal had ruled such subsidy should not be granted with regard to any pilgrimage of any other community also.

B N Shukla, a Shiv Sena activist, had filed the PIL through his counsel H S Jain seeking curbs on aid by central and state governments to pilgrims going on Haj or any other pilgrimage by people of any religion.

PDF is a political front chaired by Maulana Abul Irfan Firangi Mahali. Earlier, eminent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwab had relinquished the post of PDF chairman. However, he remains with the Front, comprising seven constituencts, as chief patron.

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