Mumbai: Terming various proposals and recommendations made in the draft Hajj Policy for 2018-22 against Islamic Sharia, Muslim community leaders on Sunday said it will be disastrous for the pilgrims if implements in its current form.
"The government claims it wants to make the Hajj journey easier and more comfortable for the pilgrims. However, the recommendations made in its Haj policy will have a counter effect. It will literally be a disastrous if it is implemented in its existing form", Syed Khaled Ashraf, President of World Mashaikh Council, said.
He said the draft policy is aimed at disturbing the Hajj operations that are peacefully underway since many decades.
"It is a calculated and well planned move which everyone of us should opposed tooth and nail", he added.
The committee formed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs to draft the Haj Policy for 2018-22 among other things proposed that women above 45 years of age should be allowed to travel to Makkah and perform Haj without a Mahram.
The committee headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah which submitted its report to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday also recommended that coupons for 'Adahi' (sacrifice of animals) be made compulsory for all the pilgrims.
The committee also proposed to abolish reserved category quota for pilgrims above 70 years of age and a decrease in Haj Committee of India quota. The committee also suggested that the number of embarkation points (EPs) be reduced from 21 to nine.
"Doing away with the reserved category quota for pilgrims of above 70 years of age will mean to stop them from performing Haj. Reducing number of embarkation points will also add to the pain of pilgrims. I fail to understand this government wants to facilitate the Haj journey or make it tougher?" General Secretary of All India Ulema Council Mahmood Madni asked.
Reminding the government that it had promised to make Haj journey cheaper even if the Haj subsidy is abolished, President of Maharashtra Jamiat Ulema Hafiz Nadeem Siddiqui said, “Now instead of fulfilling its own promise, the government is trying to create new hurdles and problems for the Haj pilgrims.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of Maharashtra Haj Committee and a member of Haj Committee of India Mohammad Ibrahim Shaikh said that the Hajj Committee members were not consulted while preparing the policy draft.
“Far from consulting the Haj Committee members, we were not aware of the report presented to the government”, he said adding that many recommendations in the draft will create problems for the pilgrims.
Interestingly, while the committee recommended abolishing Haj subsidy, a demand supported by the Muslims also, it is completely silent on the question why the airlines charged almost double the airfare when much cheaper air carriers are available.
More than 170,000 Muslims performed Haj in 2017 through Haj Committee of India and private tour operators.
The Haj Committee of India is expected to start registration of Haj pilgrims by December end or January first week.