Narendra Modi government ends Haj subsidy for Muslims

New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday has withdrawn Haj Subsidy which traces its origin in British colonial era. Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the decision was in line with the Centre’s agenda to empower minority communities “with dignity and without appeasement”, The Times of India reported.

“The funds spent on the Haj subsidy will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of the minority community,” Naqvi said.

The move comes a little over two months after Naqvi said the government could phase out the subsidy as early as 2018. In 2012, Supreme Court has asked the Centre to gradually abolish the Haj subsidy in an order.

Pilgrims will no longer receive any subsidy this year onwards. Every year, the Central government gives around Rs 650 crore a year in Haj subsidy. The subsidy amount was being used to pay the fares of ailing state-owned Air India.

The highest numbers of pilgrims are likely to go for Haj pilgrimage in 2018, after Saudi Arabia hiked India’s pilgrim quota by 5,000 earlier this year. Now, a total of 1.75 lakh Indian citizens can go for Haj.

All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Kamal Farooqui welcomed the move, saying that a wrong impression was being created that Muslims were gaining from the government aid. “Instead, it was national carrier Air India that was the biggest beneficiary of this government scheme,” he said while speaking to a private news channel.