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Government ends Haj subsidy from this year

Makkah’ grand mosque during Haj. File

Makkah’ grand mosque during Haj. File   | Photo Credit: AP

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Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday announced the Centre would phase out subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage, two months after his Ministry had taken the decision. 

“It is part of the Modi government’s efforts to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” he told a media briefing at the BJP headquarters here. The decision was first reported in The Hindu in November.

The Centre’s decision followed a 2012 Supreme Court order asking that subsidies for the Haj be phased out by 2022 and the money saved (around ₹450 crore annually) diverted to more welfare-oriented activities. Political parties reminded the government of the caveat in the court order that the funds should be spent on welfare.

 In November Mr. Naqvi told The Hindu that his Ministry and the government had a larger responsibility towards the minorities and the money saved from the Haj subsidy withdrawal would be used for the education of the girl child. 

A new Haj policy, formulated by a committee headed by former bureaucrat Afzal Amanullah had also suggested that women Hajis be allowed to perform the pilgrimage without male escort, or mehram. In a first, a batch of over 1300 women will perform the annual pilgrimage of Haj from India without a mehram this year. 

“Woman Haj assistants would accompany them and arrangements have been made,” Mr. Naqvi said.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 9:10:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-ends-haj-subsidy-from-this-year/article22450240.ece

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