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Proposed Haj policy favours end to subsidy

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 8, 2017, 1:12 am IST
Updated : Oct 8, 2017, 6:32 am IST

The proposed policy has suggested abolishing the subsidy and using the amount thus saved for the educational empowerment and welfare of Muslims.

(Representational image)
 (Representational image)

Mumbai: Abolition of the Haj subsidy and allowing women devotees above 45 years to undertake the pilgrimage without any male mehram (close relative) are among the key recommendations of a government panel tasked to draft the 2018-22 Haj policy.

Male mehram refers to a relative a woman cannot marry at anytime in her life, like father, brother or son. The proposed policy allows women above 45 years to travel without male mehram if they go in a group of four or more women.

Before suggesting women-friendly tweaks in the Haj policy, the committee studied the practice in Saudi Arabia and other countries whose women pilgrims have been undertaking Haj without going in the company of men.

The panel suggested that women pilgrims under 45 years shall continue to be accompanied by a mehram but it recommended that the quota for mehrams should be increased to 500 from 200.

The proposed policy has suggested abolishing the subsidy and using the amount thus saved for the educational empowerment and welfare of Muslims.

Union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday shared details of the proposed changes to the Haj policy at Haj House in Mumbai.

He said the proposed changes will be transparent and people-friendly, ensuring safety and security of the 1.70 lakh pilgrims who undertake the pilgrimage from India every year.

The committee was appointed by the Centre in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order  directing the government to abolish Haj subsidy.

The Union minister said, “The 2018 Haj pilgrimage will be in line with the new policy.”

The proposed policy was framed by a panel headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah, who has taken into consideration the financial aspect of the pilgrimage and suggested a sea journey to save additional expenses that pilgrims will have to bear in air travel in the absence of a subsidy.

The policy also aims to rationalise the distribution of the permitted quota of pilgrims allowed by the Saudi government from India and has proposed a 70:30 ratio for pilgrims going through the Haj committee of India and private tour operators.

Tags: mukhtar abbas naqvi, male mehram, haj policy