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‘Withdrawal of Haj subsidy should have been gradual’  

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has called the government’s decision to revoke the Haj subsidy as undemocratic, discriminatory and unfair towards the minority community.

lucknow Updated: Jan 17, 2018 15:21 IST
Anupam Srivastava
Anupam Srivastava
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Haj subsidy,Withdrawal,Haj flights
AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said the money spent by the government on festivals of the majority community was more than what was spent as Haj subsidy.(Reuters photo)

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has called the government’s decision to revoke the Haj subsidy as undemocratic, discriminatory and unfair towards the minority community.

AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said the money spent by the government on festivals of the majority community was more than what was spent as Haj subsidy.

Besides, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said that the decision of revoking Haj subsidy in one go was not justified as the Supreme Court in its decision had asked to withdraw the subsidy gradually.

Notably, the apex court in 2012 had said that the Haj subsidy should be withdrawn gradually by 2022. The SC had ruled that the subsidy is not only unconstitutional but inconsistent with the teachings of Quran.

Talking to HT, Farangi Mahali said, “The subsidy was a way to give a lifeline to Air India (AI) as all the Haj pilgrims were forced to travel from AI instead of other airlines. It could be said that the subsidy was for AI and not for Muslims. Yet, it will affect some of the poor pilgrims who will have to arrange ₹75,000 more.”

He added, “Now the government should float open tenders for the Haj flights as Haj pilgrims are bulk purchasers. In tenders, any airline which offers the lowest fares should be given the work of flying the Haj pilgrims. We believe that this will reduce the expense of the pilgrims.”

Farangi Mahali further said that for reducing the cost of pilgrimage, the government of India could lease buildings in Mecca and Medina for longer duration instead of hiring them for few days in which they have to pay more rent.

On the other hand, Maulana Kalbe Jawwad said, “I will write to the Prime Minister to restore the subsidy as it would hurt the poor pilgrims. Haj is not only for rich but for poor as well. Subsidy must be given to all the poor pilgrims. The government must find a way to give subsidy to the poor pilgrims and withdraw it for the rich ones.”

Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury said that it was wrong to withdraw the Haj subsidy in one go as the Supreme Court asked it to revoke gradually.

This year, around 1.75 lakh Muslims from India will undertake the Haj pilgrimage. The decision to withdraw the subsidy can affect these pilgrims.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 15:21 IST