Centre withdraws Haj subsidy, says decision taken to empower minorities
The government on Tuesday withdrew Haj subsidy in a bid to end minority appeasement. Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi confirmed that the Haj subsidy has been withdrawn.
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, reports News 18.
Haj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of minority community: Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pic.twitter.com/p1GmpyyRyg— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2018
"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.
Earlier this 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.
A policy to withdraw the Haj subsidy had been drafted in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Centre to abolish it gradually by 2022.
The government will offer air and waterways option for the pilgrims as cost will go up.
The subsidy is given to those who go through the Haj committee of India and not through private operators. The quota this year has been raised to 1.70 lakh people. In 2011, when the pilgrim quota was 170, 162, the subsidy amount was Rs 685 crore and the expense of the external affairs ministry was Rs 33.16 crore.
"The Haj subsidy varies from Rs 600 crore to Rs 700 crore and external affairs ministry incurs expense of Rs 28 to Rs 33 crore for the same every year", says an official.