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Use money saved after Haj subsidy withdrawal for welfare of Muslims, says Ahmed Patel

Patel said the government in its wisdom has chosen to reduce the subsidy and eventually eliminate it, four years ahead of its 2022 deadline.

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Ahmed Patel
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A day after the Union government announced the withdrawal of Haj subsidy, Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday wrote to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, urging him to ensure that the money saved is utilised for the socio-economic welfare of the Muslim community.

"While I welcome the implementation of the Supreme Court's order, I would like to point out that the court had also mandated that the saving accrued from the gradual reduction - to eventful elimination in 10 years - in the Haj subsidy must be deployed towards the socio-economic welfare of the community," he said in his letter.

Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP, said the government in its wisdom has chosen to reduce the subsidy and eventually eliminate it, four years ahead of its 2022 deadline.

He said available records show between 2014 and 2017, the central government's grant for Haj has been reduced from Rs 401 crore to Rs 200 crore.

"I sincerely hope that this reduction in outlay by nearly Rs 200 crore has been matched by an increased investment in the welfare of the community, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

"I hope that the ministry has implemented the guidelines of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit and if possible share details of such expenditure," he wrote to the minister.

Naqvi on Tuesday announced that there will be no subsidy for Haj from this year and the funds saved will be used for providing education to minorities. He projected the move as an effort by the government to "empower minorities" without appeasement.

The minister also said a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year from India, despite the subsidy withdrawal.

"There will be no subsidy on Haj now," he told reporters, adding that the government had spent over Rs 250 crore last year on subsidising the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Saudi Arabia.

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