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Maulanas welcome abolition of Haj subsidy

Last Modified Wednesday, 17 January 2018 (12:12 IST)
Lucknow: The Central government on Tuesday abolished subsidy for Haj pilgrims and the muslim clerics have welcomed the abolition of the subsidy on the haj pilgrimage.They said 'Good Riddance'. The clerics said the Haj subsidy was a myth and an unnecessary burden on the community without any actual benefit to the pilgrims.

The decision to abolish Haj subsidy comes a day after the government allowed Muslim women, above the age of 45, to go on Haj without male guardian, in a group of at least four.The Ministry of Minority Affairs had in 2017 had constituted a committee to review the existing Haj policy and suggest a framework for a new Haj policy for 2018-22. A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had during the Congress led UPA regime in 2012, had directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with in gradual manner in next 10 years.

Zafaryaab Jilani, former additional advocate general and the convenor of the Babri masjid action committee said on Tuesday that it was an outstanding demand of the community to abolish the subsidy along with allowing the pilgrims to choose the airlines for for performing the Haj pilgrimage. He however said that the Supreme Court had directed to abolish the subsidy in next 10 years and the government seems to have done before that.

Nadeem Ahmed Shahar kazi of Saharanpur welcoming the abolition of the subsidy said `` it was an unnecessary burden on the muslims and the actual beneficiary was the national carrier Air India and Haj committee made it mandatory for the nHaj pilgrims to fly only by the Air India. Moreover he said Haj subsidy was unislamic as Haj is among the five pillars of Islam and those who are financially competent and can afford the pilgrimage through the `halal’ income are required to performe the Haj pilgrimage.

Syed Mohammed Arshad, member of the Haj committee of India said `` though the supreme court had directed to phase out the subsidy in a phased manner , the government did it earlier then, we welcome the abolition as the subsidy on Haj only brought bad name to the muslim community .Maulana Zulfikar Ahmed, shahar Mufti of Muzaffarnagar and former member of UP minority commission said ``I am happy that our long standing demand for the abolition of the haj subsidy has been accepted by the government as the subsidy was a ``myth’’.

Maulana said that travel by the national carrier Air India was the only option for the Haj pilgrims, to take a flight to Saudi Arabia, for performing the annual pilgrimage, through various Haj Committees. It should, once again be stressed that such a monetary help, doled out by the government goes to the coffers of the official air carrier and not to the pockets of the pilgrims, as the popular impression may be. He said the previous NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had limited the provision of Haj subsidy to poor pilgrims only. But, once Congress returned to power in 2004, the new government lifted the restriction, and subsidy, as earlier, was made equally available to all pilgrims.

The Haj subsidy was first introduced by the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to encourage Haj pilgrims to travel by air, abandoning the popular practice of journeying by sea route. The government, rightly felt, the air travel was safer and faster in comparison to sea journey. Ultimately, in 1995, the option of a ship journey was dropped altogether. So, all pilgrims began to take a flight to the holy shrines. 

In those days, there was a difference of ten or twelve thousand rupees, between the prices of the ticket of a ship and a plane. Hence, a provision of the same amount of compensation for the pilgrims was made, in order to encourage them.Shia Maulana and spokesperson of All India Shia Personal Law Board Yasoob Abbas said that poor will be affected with this decision.Maulana Afil Faraz, however, was critical, claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gifted this decision on the visit of the Israeli PM.(UNI)
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