Central Govt ends Haj subsidy to pilgrims – Here’s what Asaduddin Owaisi says

Hyderabad (Telangana): All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday questioned as to why was the Centre trumpeting the withdrawal of Haj subsidy when it is already giving a hefty amount to other pilgrims.

Speaking to media, Owaisi asked the Centre to withdraw all other subsidies given to the pilgrims of other communities.

“I have been raising this issue since 2006 in every budget session to use subsidy money for the education of Muslim children, especially girls. I also asked (the government) to withdraw the Haj subsidy for pilgrims because it was being given to Air India in the name of Muslims,” he said.

He said that in 2012, two Supreme Court judges had also asked to phase out the Haj subsidy and use the amount for the upliftment of Muslims.

Taking a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for terming the Haj subsidy as appeasement of Muslims, the AIMIM chief asked, “Then what was the amount allotted for the 2014 Kumbh Mela called? In 2016, the Modi government had given Rs 100 crore to the Madhya Pradesh government for Simasta Maha Kumbh. Was that appeasement too?

He also sought a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS in this regard.

Owaisi further raised questions over the subsidy being given by the Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana governments for pilgrimage and other religious events.

“The Yogi government has given Rs 800 crore for pilgrimages. It has also announced to give a subsidy of Rs 1.5 lakh to the one who goes to Mansarovar Yatra. Will the government scrap this? In 2015, the Congress government had announced to give Rs 20,000 to the pilgrim for Char Dham Yatra. Will the Congress scrap this? In 2017, the BJP government gave Rs 38 crore for Devasthanam department. Was not it appeasement? he pointed out.

He further highlighted that in Gujarat, the Hindu priests are given a monthly salary while the Haryana government gives Rs 1 crore to Dera Sacha Sauda.

“The Haryana government also gave Rs 1 crore to Dera Sacha Sauda. The government’s money is being used for all these things, but I don’t know why they are boasting just for Rs. 200 crore as if they have done a lot for Muslims,” he added.

The Union government, earlier in the day, scrapped the Haj subsidy for pilgrims citing that the fund will instead be used for the empowerment of minorities from this year.

However, the poor and people over 70 years of age are exempted.

A total of 1,70,000 Indian pilgrims are expected to travel for Haj in 2018.