Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday wrote a letter to Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and asked him to ensure that funds saved after scrapping Haj subsidy are used for welfare of minorities. “I hope this reduction in outlay by nearly Rs 200 cr has been matched by an increased investment in the welfare of the community, as mandated by Supreme Court,” Patel wrote in the letter. While Rajya Sabha MP said he welcomed the cancellation of the subsidy in accordance with the apex court’s direction, he also hoped the guidelines will be implemented in letter and spirit. “Available records show that between 2014 and 2017, the Central Government’s grant for Haj has been reduced from Rs 400 crore to Rs 200 crore. I sincerely hope this reduction in the outlay by nearly Rs 200 crore has been matched by an increased investment in the welfare of the community as mandated by the honourable Supreme Court,” the letter read.
He further said that while the court had ordered a gradual reduction to complete elimination in 10 years, the government “in its wisdom has chosen to reduce the subsidy and eventually eliminate it four years ahead of the 2022 deadline.” The Gujarat Rajya Sabha MP also asked Naqvi to share details of the expenditure.
Narendra Modi government on Tuesday ended the subsidy provided for Muslim citizens’ on Haj pilgrimage. Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters that despite the subsidy withdrawal, a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year from India. He added the Saudi Arabian government has in principle agreed to allow Haj journey from India by ships and officials of the two countries will sit together to finalise the modalities. “This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi told reporters.
My letter to Sh Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ji on the issue of Hajj subsidy pic.twitter.com/3bRVkH67oC
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) January 17, 2018
Earlier this year, Naqvi had said the Centre would abolish the subsidy for Haj pilgrims in accordance with a Supreme Court order. “A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime in 2012, directed the Haj subsidy be done away with. Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually,” he had said.