Haj pilgrims travel to cities such as Mumbai to cut cost
Out of nine other major embarkation points, seven other cities too have seen an increase in the number of registration of pilgrims this yearmumbai Updated: Jan 24, 2018 00:11 IST
Last year, 1,794 pilgrims flew for Haj from Indore. But this year, the number has dwindled to 121 because 1,623 pilgrims will fly from Mumbai. Similarly, 4,965 pilgrims from Goa, Aurangabad and Bhopal will be travelling to Mumbai before leaving for Mecca. This inflow has doubled the number of pilgrims going on Haj from Mumbai. This year, 13,093 pilgrims will fly from Mumbai in comparison to 6,297 in 2017.
Out of nine other major embarkation points, seven other cities too have seen an increase in the number of registration of pilgrims this year. This increase can be attributed to the cancellation of Haj subsidy by the Centre last week. Those wanting to go on Haj from remote places said they would have to pay more if they decide to travel from their home town rather than flying from one of the nine embarkation points.
As per figures available from last year’s Haj, pilgrims who would board their flight from Mumbai paid Rs57,000, while those travelling from smaller locations such as Indore paid Rs 62,000. However, the actual cost of flying from Indore was Rs 97,000. The difference was borne by the government as Haj subsidy.
The Supreme Court in 2012 had asked the Centre to abolish the Haj subsidy by 2022. While making the announcement last Tuesday, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the subsidy would now be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of the minority community.
“The rate at which the Central government was decreasing the subsidy, we had predicted that we won’t be getting funds from this year. Which is why we intimated pilgrims in advance and gave them an option to choose from the different embarkation points,” said Maqsood Ahmed Khan, chief executive officer, Haj Committee of India (HCOI).
Khan added that the data indicates those who chose to travel from their home towns are either capable of paying for the pilgrimage or don’t find it feasible to travel to a different location. He said it would be better if the state governments offered some assistance in making travel smoother to embarkation points.
But a section from the Muslim community believes that the concept of Haj subsidy goes against the teaching of Islam. “We do not believe in the provision of subsidy for any pilgrimage of any religion and not just Muslims,” said Javed Anand, Convener, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD).