The Indian Haj Committee under the Ministry of External Affairs apparently does not believe in meting out fair treatment to HIV/AIDS-affected and those with disabilities.

Its website, hajcommittee.com, has a clause barring the HIV/AIDS-affected and the polio-hit from going on Haj to Makkah.

The clause surfaces in the FAQ’s “eligibility criteria” query in answer to which it lists those who are not eligible to perform haj.

The link states that those “suffering from polio, tuberculosis, congestive cardiac and respiratory ailments, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS and / or any other communicable diseases or handicaps, are ineligible to perform haj.”

The barring of AIDS and polio-affected has attracted the attention of not only Islamic clerics but also human rights activists.

Veteran human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi calls such restrictions absurd and against Islamic Shariat. “Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) has made it clear that no person suffering from any disability or those afflicted with AIDS should be prevented from travelling to any country,” she said.

Ms. Hashmi said that the restrictions had been imposed by some people with “extremely conservative mindset” and demanded that they be immediately removed.

Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, an Islamic scholar and Shahi Imam of the Grand Royal Mosque of Fatehpur, Delhi, also termed the restrictions anti-Islamic. He said that Islam does not prevent people with disabilities or AIDS patients from performing Haj.

Mr. Ahmed said that by preventing AIDS patients from performing Haj, the Haj Committee of India is hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.

He pointed out that Islam does not mandate that people with disabilities should perform Haj. But, if any person with disability wished to perform Haj, Islam did not restrict him from doing so. “I have visited Makkah and have seen numerous people with disabilities performing Haj,” he said.

Mr. Ahmed demanded that the government provide special facility for those with disabilities to perform Haj. In fact, the website of the Ministry of Haj in Saudi Arabia, where Makkah is located, does not impose any restrictions.

Sources in the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in New Delhi said that it would act if the matter was officially brought to its notice.

Vice-Chairman of the Haj Committee of India M.M. Ahmed told The Hindu that he was surprised over the restrictions. Admitting that the restrictions were anti-Islamic and against human rights, he said that the issue would be addressed.

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