The decision of the union government to scrap Haj subsidy and divert it to welfare of Muslim women and education of girls has evoked a mixed response from Muslim leaders and clerics in Uttar Pradesh.
While most of them have welcomed the move as “long awaited”, some say that the Narendra Modi government should not take decisions that seem to single out one community. They have also demanded that in comparison to subsidy a global tender for air tickets was a better option.
Maulana Sayyed Abbas Naqvi of the Shia Chand Committee is not too happy with the decision of the Modi government to scrap the subsidy and opined that Haj subsidy was something that sent a good message internationally but now it will paint Indian government as being hostile to the Muslim community.
Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali of the Aishbagh Eidgah told IANS on Wednesday that the Muslim community was earning a bad name for the Haj subsidy it was getting and hence many of the Muslim organisations had for long been demanding that it be done away with.
“There should be an open process of tenders for air tickets, I am sure most airlines will agree to scaling down their fares.”
Fazle Mannan Rahmani of the Teele Waali mosque, however, said that Haj was a matter related to religion and the government was better advised not to have revoked the subsidy.
“It is sad and strange both that a government which was talking of sabka saath-sabka vikas, was targeting one community one way or the other to please the majority community” he said.
President of the All-India Sunni Board Maulana Mohammad Mushtaq Naqvi says the move will not effect the Haj pilgrims as the subsidy was basically to benefit Air India, the national carrier.
Now that the government has cancelled the subsidy, he said, it should honestly float a global tender for air tickets.
Shia cleric Maulana Habeeb Haider said that they will wait and watch closely on how the Rs 700 crore funds spent as Haj subsidy would be diverted to welfare of Muslim girls and women. Shia Waqf Board chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi, however, welcomed the move.
UP Health Minister state government spokesman Siddhartha Nath Singh told IANS that the government has welcomed the move and believes this would “really empower the women and girls of the minority community”.