By Shuriah Niazi
The Indian government on Tuesday withdrew subsidy given to hundreds of thousands of Muslim for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
In a statement, Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government believes in “empowering the minority community with dignity and not appeasement”.
“Around 175,000 people will go to Hajj this year after Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000. The Hajj subsidy will now be used for educational empowerment of girls of the minority community.”
The Supreme Court in 2012 had asked the government to abolish Hajj subsidy gradually by 2022.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress party has said they hope Modi government will honor the Supreme Court direction and utilize the money for the disempowered communities.
“Government withdrew Hajj subsidy four years before date prescribed by the Supreme Court, we don't have any issue… Let it be clear that Hajjis are not benefited by subsidy, airlines are,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader was quoted as saying by ANI news agency.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a private body working to protect Muslims in India, has termed the government’s decision “discriminatory, unfair and undemocratic”.
“In real terms, subsidy was given to government-owned airlines and not to Muslims. Other communities were also getting benefits from the government,” Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, AIMPLB spokesperson, told Anadolu Agency.