Withdraw Air India as official carrier of Haj pilgrims: Muslim leaders

The Jamaat-e-Islami wants the government to call for global tenders.

Hyderabad: Withdrawal of the Haj subsidy by the Union government will not affect pilgrims in the state all that much, according to the State Haj Committee officials.

“The previous year, no subsidy was granted to pilgrims embarking from Hyderabad. Pilgrims whose airfare crossed Rs 65,000 were given subsidy last year, said professor S.A. Shukhoor, special officer, Telangana State Haj Committee.

In 2016, pilgrims from TS received a subsidy of Rs 16,000 each. “Since 2012, following the Supreme Court ruling, the government has been reducing the subsidy component, but it has not largely affected pilgrims,” said professor Shukhoor.

This year, about 4,000 pilgrims are going on Haj pilgrimage from Telangana. A total of 7,000 will leave from the Haj embarkation point at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport as pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh and five districts of Karnataka also depart from the Hyderabad embarkation point every year.

All India Sunni Ulema Board chairman and president, Maulana Syed Shah Hameed Hussain Shuttari, said that Muslims who are economically strong and can afford the pilgrimage have been asked to perform it.

“So it will not affect people to a large extent. But at the same time, subsidy for other communities should also be withdrawn,” he said.

The TS Haj Committee wants the Union government to stop making Air India the official carrier for Haj pilgrims from this country because it charges much more.

The Jamaat-e-Islami wants the government to call for global tenders. “About three lakh people go on Haj pilgrimage every year. While private tour operators charge Rs 48,000 for the to and fro journey, the government nominated Air India charges about Rs 62,000,” said Hamed Mohammed Khan, president of Jamaat-e-Islami, Telangana and Odisha.

Tehreek Muslim Shabban president Mohammed Mustaq Malik said that if the Haj subsidy is scrapped, it may not have much impact.

“But at the same time, sincere efforts should be made to bring down the airfare by changing the travel policy. The government is trying to bail out Air India at the cost of Muslim pilgrims.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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