In what is seen as a step closer to phase out the subsidy given to
Hajis, the Central government on Tuesday announced to restrict the number of Hajis
going to Makkah through the Haj Committee of India to once
“The government has decided to limit the number of Haj pilgrimages
that a person wants to undertake through the Haj Committee to once
a lifetime as against once in five years according to previous rules,”
Haj Committee of India CEO Syed Shakir Hussain said while talking
Under the previous rules a person could go to Haj through the Haj
Committee once every five years. Under the new rules, the cap has
enforced on hajis going to haj through the Haj
Committee. "The restriction does not apply to those who want to go
to haj through private tour operators", Syed Shakir said.
In April this year, the government
had told the Supreme Court that it was planning to restrict the
number of haj to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah through the
Haj Committee of India to “once in a lifetime” as against the
existing “once in five years”, in an effort to provide the benefit
of subsidy to those applicants who have never performed the Haj.
Earlier, the Supreme Court in its
ruling pronunced on May 08, 2012, had directed the government to eliminate the
subsidy for Haj pilgrims in the next 10 years.
The SC decision was welcomed by the
Muslim community leaders who for long blamed the government of
misleading to the nation on Haj subsidy. They said that the haj
subsidy instead of benefiting the community in fact goes to the
coffer of state carrier Air India.
The clerics and leaders also said that instead of providing subsidies,
the Haj committee, an autonomous body under the Indian government
responsible for making arrangement for Haj pilgrimage, should be
They also demanded open tendering of tickets which would result
in Air India, which at present has the ticketing monopoly, having
to compete with other airlines to attract maximum travellers and
giving cheaper tickets.
More than 03 lakh people apply every
year to go to haj pilgrimage throgh the Haj Committee of India.
However, less than half of them get the chance as the Haj
Committee has a quota of just 1,25,000.
Besides this, some 50,000 hajis go
to Makkah and Madinah through private tour operators.
About 3.5mn people from all across
the world visit the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah in Saudi
Arabia every year to perform haj.