Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Haj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise modalities.
There will be no subsidy for Haj pilgrims from this year, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said Tuesday.
Naqvi told reporters that despite the subsidy withdrawal, a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year from India.
In 2016, the Centre spent Rs 605 crore as subsidy for the Haj pilgrims. In 2014, the subsidy was Rs 577.07 crore and in the following year, it was reduced to Rs 529.51 crore. Muslim leaders have argued that the Hajj subsidy is “un-Islamic” and that Hajj money should be invested in education and health instead.
Government plans to use the cut in funds meant for subsidy to be used for educational purposes of Muslims.
Naqvi also said the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Haj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise the modalities.
“Haj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of the minority community,” Naqvi said.
“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” he added.
Earlier this year, Naqvi had said the Centre would abolish the subsidy for Haj pilgrims in accordance with a Supreme Court order.
“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime in 2012, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with. Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” he had said.