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APN debates merit of government move to withdraw fund

The government of India has withdrawn the subsidy for Haj pilgrims. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi made this announcement saying “Haj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of minority community”.

However, the minister told reporters that despite the subsidy withdrawal, a record number of 1.75 lakh Muslims will undertake the pilgrimage this year. This was a drastic move by the government. Most of the Muslim leaders have welcomed the move saying that the subsidy funds were being used to keep Air India alive by channelising it through expensive tickets for the Haj pilgrims.

The issue was the subject of the debate of APN’s landmark 60-minute show Mudda on Wednesday. The participants of the debate were: Dr Narendra Singh Gaur, a BJP leader, Ajay Verma, spokesman of Congress party, HS Rawat, a Hindu religious leader, Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani, General Secretary, All India United Morcha, Mufti Manzoor Ziaee, Advisor of Haji Ali Trust, Mumbai,Swami Chakrapani, President of All India Hindu Mahasabha and Govid Pant Raju, the Consulting Editor of APN. Anant Tyagi was the anchor of the show.

The questions asked from the panel included: Why Haj subsidy was revoked immediately after presenting the Triple Talaq bill in the parliament? Is this move aimed for political gain? Why government favoring Muslim women?

Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani, General Secretary of All India United Morcha, said that the government’s decision was taken in the right direction. He said that the saved money will be used for the public welfare. He further said that he was not against the move if it is for the good of the society. He admitted that political parties always eye on their political gains in all decisions.

Mufti Manzoor Ziaee said that government should plan such issues properly so that it does feel ashamed of. The subsidy was not favouring Haj pilgrims, instead it was lifeline for Air India.

Dr Narendra Gaur, the BJP leader, said that his party fulfils its promises without any hesitation. However, Congress party spokesman Ajay Verma said that government should have plans for country’s development and maintaining communal harmony and security in the country.

However, Swami Chakrapani, National President of Hindu Mahasabha, said that governments have been exploiting Hindus. It is wrong to compare Haj with Kumbh or Mansarovar pilgrimage. The Haj pilgrim is profitable for Saudigovernment which does not create revenue for India. Kumbh is an ancient religious gathering which creates huge employment and revenue for the government.

He also said that Haj subsidy was withdrawn because Muslim religious scriptures forbid performing Haj with somebody’s financial help. Several Muslim organisations were also against the government subsidy for the pilgrimage.

HS Rawat, a Hindu religious leader said that if government has withdrawn Haj subsidy, the saved money should not be used only for the welfare of one community. Instead it should be utilised for the welfare of poor people irrespective of their religious belief.

-MA Kazmi

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