India ends Haj subsidy as part of policy to ’empower minorities without appeasement’

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‘The government will offer waterways option for the pilgrims as cost will go up’

New Delhi: Haj pilgrims will no longer receive any subsidy this year onwards, with the government saying the decision is part of its agenda of empowerment of minorities without appeasement.

Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday confirmed that the Haj subsidy has been withdrawn.

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

A policy to withdraw the Haj subsidy had been drafted in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Centre to abolish it gradually by 2022. The government will offer air and waterways option for the pilgrims as cost will go up.

The cut in funds meant for subsidy will be used for educational empowerment and welfare of girls from minority communities, Naqvi told TOI. The policy aims at rationalising distribution of the Haj quota between the Haj Committee of India and private tour operators in the ratio of 70:30 for the next five years. It also stresses on breaking the cartel of contractors with a transparent bidding process.

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