Monday, March 27, 2023
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‘Modi govt has timed announcement of ban on Haj subsidy to polarise people’

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The decision was taken in November 2017, but Kamal Faruqui says publicising it at this point of time is an indication that the government wants to ‘polarise’.

New Delhi: The government’s decision to abolish the Haj subsidy given to Muslims – taken in November last year and reported by ThePrint – finally caught the public eye Tuesday with minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi reiterating the announcement.

However, a member of the Haj Review Committee constituted by the Minority Affairs Ministry accused the government of “playing politics” over the issue.

“We believed that the subsidy had become a means to exploit Muslims, and did not benefit the community in any way, so the review committee recommended its abolition,” said Kamal Faruqui, member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), who was on the review committee.

“But this government is now trying to consolidate its majority vote by trying to show that first it cornered Muslims over the issue of triple talaq, then added the clause of criminalisation, and is now stopping minority appeasement through subsidy,” he alleged.

The timing of the announcement reeks of political manipulation, Faruqui said. “Just like the government suddenly became the messiah of Muslim women, it has brought up the issue of the Haj subsidy to polarise,” he said.

Basis of the decision

In accordance with the Supreme Court’s 2012 order directing the government to reduce and abolish the Haj subsidy borne by the government in a phased manner over 10 years, the Centre, on the basis of the Haj Review Committee’s recommendation, took the decision to abolish the subsidy — albeit with immediate effect.

Last year, the government spent a total of Rs 450 crore on the subsidy.

The Supreme Court had urged the government to instead spend the amount on education and other measures for social development of the minority community – a view echoed by Naqvi while speaking to ThePrint in November. “The focus would shift instead on the primary and technical educational empowerment of Muslims, particularly women,” Naqvi had said.

The move would not impact Muslims adversely, since the government would continue to give medical and security facilities to Haj pilgrims, he added.

“I do not think there is any need for subsidies, and most educated Muslims believe so,” Qaiser Shamim, IRS (Retd) & former chairman, Haj Committee of India, who was also on the review committee, had said in November. “The government has moved faster on this issue than expected, but the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, had stated that the Haj subsidy be reduced to zero by 2022,” he said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that his government had removed the unjust practice where Muslim women were allowed to travel for Haj only in the company of a ‘mehram’ or male guardian.

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  1. The govt. that has failed toshow results, will certainly ,resort to such gimmics ,like abolition of HAJ SUBSIDY.

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