Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Wednesday condemned the Opposition's criticism of the Centre's move to end the Haj subsidy, saying that it's their habit to find fault in every decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
The government withdrew the Haj subsidy, the discount given to thousands of Muslims who go on Haj pilgrimage each year. Admittedly, the amount of money allocated for the subsidy was relatively small, reflected in the fact that a mere 0.1 per cent of the total Muslim population had undertaken the pilgrimage to Mecca-Medina in the last decade.
The abolition of the Haj subsidy has naturally turned attention to various subsidies and concessions that numerous State governments offer to members of the other religious groups, including Hindus, of course, for pilgrimages.
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Coming on the heels of the Government's initiative to criminalise instant triple talaq, a section of the Indian Muslim community may feel it is being picked on for special treatment. "People can not be blamed if they take this as an anti-secular move by the central Govt", said minister in charge of Haj in the state Dr. K.T. Jaleel. He said that even Britishers provided assistance to Haj pilgrims by operating ships from sea ports of Bombay and Calcutta.
"This should be considered as an assault against the secularism".
He said the cash saved from the scheme would be channelled into economic opportunities and education for Muslims, who make up about 14% of India's 1.25 billion people. The top court had asked the government to gradually phase out the subsidy and abolish it by 2022.