Crescent Kashmir

No financial burden on Haj pilgrims despite subsidy removal exposes deceit of past: Naqvi

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New Delhi, May 23: Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday said there has been no additional financial burden on Haj pilgrims despite the removal of subsidy which shows that many had only indulged in “political deceit” over the matter for decades.

Inaugurating a two-day orientation-cum-training programme for Haj 2022 deputationists, he said that even though the quota of pilgrims for all countries has been reduced by Saudi Arabia this year due to Covid restrictions, India’s Haj quota is still higher than many prominent Islamic nations.

India’s Haj quota stands at 79,237 with only Indonesia (1,00,051) and Pakistan (81,132) having a higher quota.

Naqvi said significant reforms in the entire Haj process have been carried out by the Narendra Modi government which have made it completely transparent. The Indian government has made arrangements so that there is no unnecessary financial burden on the Haj pilgrims who will be performing the pilgrimage after two years, he said.

The Modi government has ended the “political deceit of Haj subsidy” that had been going on for decades with transparency and commitment to “decisions with delivery”, Naqvi said.

The government had done away with the Haj subsidy in 2018.

Naqvi said 100 per cent digital/online Haj process has fulfilled the dream of “ease of doing Haj” for Indian Muslims. The digital/online Haj process is one of the best examples of “digital India”, the minority affairs minister said.

Haj 2022 is taking place with significant reforms giving utmost priority to the health and well-being of the pilgrims, Naqvi said.

The entire Haj 2022 process has been chalked out with necessary guidelines of the Indian and the Saudi Arabian governments, he said, adding these include eligibility criteria, age limit and health-related requirements among others.

The Modi government’s Haj reforms include abolishing the decades-old Haj subsidy, and removing the restriction on women to perform Haj with ‘Mehram’ (male companion) which ensured more than 3,000 Muslim women have performed Haj without ‘Mehram’, he said.

Naqvi said about 2,000 Muslim women will be going for Haj 2022 without ‘Mehram’.

The government has made the entire Haj process fully online which includes digital health card, ‘E-MASIHA’ health facility and ‘E-luggage pre-tagging’, providing all information about accommodation and transportation in Mecca-Madina to Haj pilgrims in India itself, he said.

Out of the 79,237 Indians who will go for Haj 2022, about 50 per cent are women, the minority affairs minister said, adding that 56,601 Indian Muslims will go for Haj 2022 through the Haj Committee of India and 22,636 will go through Haj Group Organisers. Haj could not take place for the last two years due to the Covid pandemic.

This year, the pilgrims travelling through the Haj Committee of India will have 10 embarkation points — Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar.

Naqvi said the flights for Haj 2022 will start on June 4. In the first phase, Haj flights will start from Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Lucknow and Srinagar embarkation points. In the second phase, Haj flights will start on June 17 from Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.

A total of 357 Haj coordinators, assistant Haj officers, Haj assistants, doctors and paramedics will be deployed in Saudi Arabia to assist the Indian Haj pilgrims. In the two-day training programme, Haj deputationists will be given all information about the Haj pilgrimage, accommodation in Mecca and Madina, transport, health facilities and safety measures. Minority Affairs Ministry Secretary Renuka Kumar, Joint Secretary Nigar Fatima Sahiba, Joint Secretary, MEA, Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh and other senior officials were also present on the occasion.–(PTI)

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