Haj panel looks at Malaysian model to end pilgrimage subsidy
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Haj panel looks at Malaysian model to end pilgrimage subsidy

The government may adopt the Malaysian model with modifications for Muslims to undertake the Haj while slashing subsidy for the pilgrimage.

india Updated: May 23, 2017 19:58 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Haj,Government panel,Subsidy
A file picture of pilgrims at the Haj . The Indian government which subsidises the pilgrimage for its citizens is reviewing the subsidy.(EPA )

The government panel reviewing Haj subsidy is closely looking at the Malaysian way of the Islamic pilgrimage.

While the Indian government subsidises a part of the Haj travel, the Malaysian model (Tabunjg Haji) allows people to deposit money over years and when the fund is enough for pilgrimage, the government agency arranges the pilgrimage for the person.

Unlike the Indian model, Malyasian pilgrims fund their own travel. But the catch is that the Malaysian model takes a long time before a person can go to Haj.

The minority affairs ministry constituted a panel in January this year even as the Supreme Court directed the Centre in 2012 to gradually remove the Haj subsidy by 2022.

Earlier, the external affairs ministry had proposed to cut the subsidy by 10% annually after the subsidy jumped to Rs 827 crore in 2008.

Prominent Muslims and organizations have also demanded that the Haj subsidy should be scrapped as it is not strictly compliant with Islamic rules. Some Muslims felt that the subsidy had harmed the community more than benefitting them.

Two years ago, a group of MPs had also visited the Haj office in Malaysia to understand the model.

“The model is otherwise perfect. But the only problem is that in Malaysia, the waiting period is 85 years. Such a long wait list can’t be accepted in India, which has a huge Muslim population,” said Afzal Amanullah, the head of the government appointed panel.

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The panel is looking at a formula whereby the waiting period can be reduced to 40 to 50 years.

The panel will be holding a fresh round of public hearing even as many Muslims have publicly sought an end to the subsidy regime.

The quota of Indian pilgrims for Haj this year stands at 1.70 lakh people.

In 2008, then Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, along with other Muslim MPs, demanded that India to follow the Malaysian model on Tabunjg Haji as it is an “Islamic, Shariat-compliant” way.

India’s top Imam, Ahmed Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid had also urged the PM to amend the Haj rules to allow airlines to compete to carry Indian pilgrims to Jeddah — the base for the pilgrimage.

AIMIM MP Asauddin Owaisi, too, had demanded the end of the subsidy system.

The panel is likely to formulate its report in a few weeks before the government takes the final call on Haj subsidy.

First Published: May 23, 2017 19:53 IST