Should the subsidy on Haj be withdrawn? Yes
9 Sep 2006, 2323 hrs IST
B N Shukla, Petitioner against haj subsidy
Indeed, the subsidy should be withdrawn. First, because it’s against constitutional norms and second because it’s increasing the gap between the Muslims and people of other faith. Articles 14, 15 and 17 of the Constitution provide equal status to all Indians.
These articles also restrict the government from giving benefits to a particular faith at the cost of others. But every year, the government spends over Rs 300 crore on over one lakh Hajis. Special flights are run. AC Haj houses have been built across the country.
They are provided free food and lodging during their trip. However, no such subsidy is given to others. A Hindu do-es not get a subsidy to visit Amarnath or Mansarovar. Sik-hs don’t get special assistance to visit Nankana Sahib.
Buddhists get no help for visiting Sarnath and Christians, too, do not get anything to visit Ro-me. Then why only Muslims? The reason: all the political parties believe in vote bank politics. Critics may say special arrangements are made by the government for Kumbh Mela, Amarnath yatra etc.
But the fact is, the government only looks after the administrative arrangements, which it does for all festivals irrespective of religion. It’s the duty of the government to maintain law and order. Every visitor to Kumbh Mela has to buy a ticket. The free kitchens are run privately.
Special trains and buses are run for Kumbh Mela, but people have to buy tickets for travelling. It’s not subsidised. Even Islamic countries do not give subsidies for Haj.
There would have been no issue if similar subsidies were given to non-Muslims, including those whose religious plac-es are situated outside India. In fact, I’m not in favour of any subsidy for pilgrimage to anybody because it puts a huge pressure on the exchequer.
Some may argue that the Haj subsidy is actually a discount, as the government-owned airlines get bulk business. Then why is such a discount not given to others who travel in large numbers during their pilgrimage season? Haj subsidy is only for Muslim appeasement.
Politicians are out to appease them. It’s evident from the way they organise iftar parties. Ironically, no one is ever seen hosting lunches for little girls during Navratri.
My writ petition was filed in ’95, when two of my friends were killed in a landslide on their way to Mansarovar. Th-at’s when I realised that the go-vernment makes no arrangements for Hindu pilgrims.
It was pending before the HC for 11 years. The government never replied to the notices. Now that a interim order has been issued, there is a flutter.
As told to Ashish Tripathi