Haj subsidy withdrawal should have been gradual: Muslim clerics
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has termed the decision to revoke the Haj subsidy by the Central government in Delhi, as “undemocratic, discriminatory and unfair” and a move against the minority community.
Citing the Supreme Court direction of withdrawal of the Haj subsidy and its advice that the same should be “gradual”, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli termed the decision “unjustified”.
A ruling of the apex court in 2012 had recommended that the Haj subsidy should be gradually withdrawn by 2022, ruling that the subsidy was not just unconstitutional but inconsistent with Quranic teachings.
Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad, speaking to TIO said he would be writing to Prime Minister Modi in this regard and seek restoration of the subsidy as it would disadvantage the poor and deny them a chance to offer pilgrimage at Mecca and Medina. However he said he stood for the subsidy being extended on economic grounds to the poor rather than be available to all.
It is to be mentioned here that those availing of the Haj subsidy had to per force travel by Air India and many critics of the subsidy have commented that it was more a shot in the arm for Air India than the Haj pilgrims as they were forced to travel by the airline on expensive tickets whereas competitive rates for the same flight on the route were much cheaper. “However the move will force the poor pilgrims to add INR 75000 (US $1200) to their expenses, an avoidable expense.” commented Maulana Khalid Rasheed, demanding that the government float open tenders for Haj flights which would provide alternative options to the pilgrims. Speaking to TIO, the AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani said just the budget of government spending on festivals of the majority community was much more than the amount spent on Haj Subsidy by the state. He also called for a prolonged lease of buildings in Mecca and Medina for longer periods because of the reduced cost of pilgrimage as more and more people were going on Haj every year.
This year alone over 2 lakh people are expected to be undertaking the Haj pilgrimage through the year.