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Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

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

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.

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"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.

Quota

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.