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Government ends Haj subsidy

Government to utilise funds saved from withdrawing subsidy for education of minorities, particularly girls

Gulf News

New Delhi: The central government on Tuesday said it has decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj.

Announcing the decision, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was in line with the government’s agenda to empower minorities without appeasing them.

“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi told reporters here.

He said the government would utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for education of minorities, particularly girls.

The government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in phased manner after the Supreme Court asked it in 2012 to withdraw it gradually by 2022.

This year, the highest number of Indian pilgrims are likely to go for the pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.

A total of 175,000 Indian Muslims can go for Haj this year.

Meanwhile, the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to seek a clarification from the Uttar Pradesh Haj Committee over the re-painting of its office boundary wall which had been given a saffron coat, a state minister said.

UP’s minister of state for Muslim Waqf and Haj, Mohsin Raza, has directed his department’s principal secretary to get a clarification from the secretary of UP Haj Committee.

“The boundary wall of the Haj Committee of UP was given a saffron coat as per the directives of the secretary of Haj Committee of UP. A day later, the colour of the boundary wall was changed. Under which circumstances this was done is not clear.

“A number of queries came from the media following the change of colour from saffron to another shade. Hence a seven-point notice seeking clarification from the secretary Haj Committee of UP has been issued,” Raza said on Tuesday.

According to the minister, a clarification has been sought as to what are the rules under which the maintenance and painting work of Haj Committee office is done.

Another point on which clarity has been sought is on whose orders was the boundary wall was painted for the first time.

“When a saffron coat was already given, then under which circumstances there was a need to change the colour, and on whose orders was the colour changed?” Mohsin has asked in his notice.

Another query raised by the minister is “who is responsible for the second coat of paint, and who will bear the cost for the second coat of paint,” according to the notice.

The minister also sought details of the tender floated in this regard and the companies involved.

He also sought to know that why did the secretary Haj Committee of UP issue a press release (and on whose orders).

“Whether any written orders were issued to the contractor? According to the press release, action was to be initiated against the contractor. Hence, what action has been initiated against the contractor,” Raza asked in the notice.

The UP minister also sought to know that on which date did the secretary of Haj Committee of UP inspect the spot (Haj Committee office).