The BJP government will no longer provide Haj subsidy to Haj pilgrims and has decided that funds saved will be used for the education of minorities, especially girl children.
The big move would help empower Muslims with dignity, said union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, adding, “We believe in empowerment without appeasement.”
Few days ago, the government also allowed Muslim women above 45 to go on Haj without male company, in a group of at least four. Earlier, women were not allowed to travel without “Mehram”.
Despite the subsidy being withdrawn, Naqvi said that a record 1.75 lakhs Muslims would be going on the Haj pilgrimage from India this year. He also said that the Saudi Arabian government has agreed to allow the Haj journey from India by ships and the matter would soon be worked upon.
The decision is a bit political as well, as BJP has argued that the subsidy, essentially for air travel, is a demonstrative sop for Muslims and a diversion of funds that can be better utilized.
Significantly, the decision was not protested by Congress, which said it has no objections to the end of the subsidy as long as the funds were utilized for minority welfare.
But many are saying that the whole subsidy scheme is itself a myth. Outlook magazine reported that while pilgrims were made haj fare to pay a “subsidised return airfare” of Rs 45,000, this was actually a rip-off since if booked well in advance, the Delhi-Jeddah return fare stood at only around Rs 30,000. So who was the subsidy meant for: those going on Hajj or Air India?
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi said the problem can be solved by ending Air India’s monopoly over the transportation of Hajis. “If a global tender is called, on lesser prices more people will go for Huz yatra,” he said.
After this hajj news, in such a scenario, much can’t be said about the withdrawal of the Haj subsidy.