The Government today stopped Haj subsidy for Muslims who go on Haj pilgrimage each year. Muslims going to Haj will no longer get subsidized or cheaper air tickets. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that this move would help empower Muslims with dignity and added that the Government believes in empowerment without appeasement. He even said that the subsidy would be used to educate girls.
Despite there being no subsidy, around 1.75 lakh Muslims would go on Haj this year after Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.
Saudi Arabia has allowed people to go on Haj by ship, which is cheaper than flying.
A panel has been set up by the Government to explore various questions, along with scrapping Haj subsidy, after the Supreme Court said it should be withdrawn gradually by 2022.
Since the declaration of 2012, the government has spent lesser on Haj subsidy every year. Rs. 420 crore was spent in 2016 by the Government and Rs. 225 crore in 2017 on cheaper air tickets.
Few days back, the government also allowed Muslim women above the age of 45 to go on Haj without any male company, in a group of at least four people. Previously, women were not allowed to travel without “Mehram”—male relatives like brothers or fathers.
Government had set up a panel for suggesting new Haj policy. Ending Haj subsidy and allowing women above 45 to travel without male guardians were the recommendations of the same panel. The panel’s report was submitted in October.
Apart from providing for cheaper fare on national flight Air India, Haj subsidy also includes help to all pilgrims to safely and easily reach specially designed Haj departure terminals made at airports along with food and medical care.
The government also contributes towards other pilgrimages like the Kumbh Melas as well as the Kailash Mansarovaryatra.