Mumbai | Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday claimed that digitising Haj-related processes has ensured that the annual pilgrimage remained inexpensive despite the absence of subsidy and made the system “pro-pilgrim”.
The Haj subsidy provided by the government was removed last year in the light of a Supreme Court order of 2012.
“Making the entire Haj process completely online/digital has not only ensured that the pilgrimage has become inexpensive even after removal of Haj subsidy, but also made the process absolutely pro-pilgrim,” a statement quoted the Minority Affairs Minister as saying.
He made the remarks while inaugurating a two-day training camp of ‘Khadim-Ul-Hujjaj’ (those who assist the pilgrims during the Haj) here.
In 2018, even after removal of the subsidy, pilgrims saved about Rs 57 crore in airfares, he said.
“GST on Haj pilgrimage has been reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent this year, which will ensure that about Rs 113 crore will be saved by Haj pilgrims during the 2019 Haj.
Reduction in GST on Haj pilgrimage will ensure significant decrease in airfare from various embarkation points,” he added.
Airfare from Srinagar will be reduced by Rs 11,377, while from Ahmedabad Rs 7,305 will be saved.
Naqvi added from Aurangabad, fares will be reduced by Rs 9,373, from Delhi by Rs 7,967, from Gaya by Rs 11,027, from Guwahati by Rs 13,049, from Ranchi by Rs 11,946, from Kolkata by Rs 9,787 and from Hydebarad by Rs 7,204 this year.
He said for the first time in post-Independence era, a record number of 1,75,025 Indian Muslims perform the Haj last year and that too without any subsidy.
Of these, 48 per cent were women, he said, adding that this year too, an equal number of Indian Muslims are likely to perform the Haj, he said.
The Modi government had last year lifted the ban onwomen going to Haj without Mehram (male companions), leading to around 1,300 Muslim women going for Haj without any male companion.
Naqvi added that 2,340 Muslim women will go for Haj this year without Mehram.
“This year, too, on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, the minority affairs ministry has made arrangement to send these women on Haj without lottery system,” he said.
A total of 538 ‘Khadim-ul-Hujjaj’, including 13 women, participated in the training programme.