The Haj subsidy program had its origins in the British era. In post-colonial era, however, the government expanded the program with the Haj Committee Act of 1959.
The Supreme Court in 2012 had said that the Haj subsidy should be withdrawn gradually by 2022. The top court had ruled that that Haj subsidy is not only unconstitutional but inconsistent with the teachings of Quran.
In a Central Haj Committee meeting in November 2017, it was decided that Haj subsidy will be completely phased out in 2018 and funds will be utilised on educational programmes, especially for girl children of the minority community. The government announced today that Rs 700 crore Haj subsidy will now be used educational purposes of the children.
The government also said that despite Haj subsidy being withdrawn, a record 1.75 lakh Muslims would go on the pilgrimage this year after Saudi Arabia increased India's quota by 5,000. Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow people to go on the Haj by ship, which is cheaper than flying, Mr Naqvi added.
Mr Naqvi also said that Haj subsidy did not benefit Muslims much and the money saved from it will now be used for empowerment of girls through education.