Pune: From henceforth, Haj pilgrims will not get any subsidy from the government to complete their pilgrimage. The move is part of the government’s policy to ‘empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement, said Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Sakal Times spoke to a few well-known Muslim personalities to know about their views on this move by the government.
Iqbal Ansari, President of All India Muslim OBC Organisations and former chairman of Backward Class, said, “We welcome the move as we never wanted a subsidy. But the government should do away with the clause of travelling only by Air India flights. The government should call for tenders from various airlines as Haj Committee books airline tickets six months in advance so we get a lot of concession on the tickets.But we will send a memorandum to the government to remove the blanket ban on other airlines to ferry Haj pilgrims.”
Dr Haj Zakir Shaik, President of All India Quami Tanzeem (Western region), lambasted the government for the move. He said that is was an injustice to the poor. “Although, the Haj Committee pays for tickets, lodging and rituals, it will affect the poor especially from rural areas who would now have to pay more amount. The government while cancelling the subsidy said that the funds will be used for education and women’s welfare, but minority educational institutes already have subsidies.”
Former mayor of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) Azam Pansare said, “It is a welcome move as the subsidy was not of much help. The only thing is that the government should ensure that the norms mentioned during the cancellation of the subsidy should be implemented properly. The subsidy money will be used for the welfare of women and students which will help them further.”
Former commissioner of State Minority Commission Haji Munaf Hakim said, “Actually, Haj pilgrim is for the person who has fulfilled all his responsibilities in life. A person should go for the pilgrimage with self-earned money and without taking any loan. We never asked for any subsidy. But this compulsion is not called for as there are various airlines world over who compete for carrying Haj pilgrims and hence, they give lot of concessions and bonus on group tickets.”
“Similarly, if you are going with Haj Committee officials, the services given by them are very poor. There is no good food, water and accommodation, too, is poor as four people stay in one small room. But when the government is saying the money will be used for children’s education, then, for last three months, educational loan has not been disbursed to them through various schemes including Maulana Azad Educational loan and others,” he added.