NEW DELHI: In a big move, the Indian government Tuesday announced to withdraw subsidy for Hajj pilgrims, and use the funds for girls’ education and minority women.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made this announcement. The minister added that “Hajj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of minority community.”
Despite the subsidy withdrawal, a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year.
The decision to abolish the subsidy comes day after government allowed Muslim women, above the age of 45, to go on hajj without male guardian, in a group of at least four.
Naqvi also said that the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Hajj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise the modalities.
The minister said government abolished the subsidy in accordance with a Supreme Court orders.
The Haj subsidy is given to Muslim Hajj pilgrims by the Indian government in form of discounted fares on Air India. It also includes assistance to Muslim pilgrims for domestic travel to reach specially designed Hajj departure airport terminals, medical cares, lodging assistance and meal.
In 2008, the total subsidy provided by the government was US$1,815 per Muslim pilgrim.