The DMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) have urged the Centre not to accept the recommendations of a panel which has endorsed a move to do away with the subsidy given to Haj pilgrims. Days after a committee formed by the Ministry of Minority Affairs endorsed a proposal to phase out the Haj subsidy, DMK working president M K Stalin said the Centre should not accept the recommendations of the panel. "Besides (the proposed) ending of the subsidy for Haj, cutting down the embarkation points to nine from 21 is tantamount to interfering in the religious freedom of the Islamic people," he said in a statement, adding that it was a matter of concern. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi should ensure the subsidy for Muslims," he urged. On October 7, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had told PTI, "A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had, during the Congress regime in 2012, directed that the Haj subsidy be done away with.
Hence, in the new policy, as per the recommendations of a committee, we have decided to do away with the Haj subsidy gradually." Referring to the minister's remark that the subsidy would be phased out, Stalin said, "This is against the basic goal of that ministry." PMK chief S Ramadoss claimed that the draft of the new Haj policy would "only create an adverse impact" and urged the Centre to take steps to maintain status quo in the matter, barring the initiative to allow women over 45 years of age to go on Haj without being accompanied by their male relatives. It may be recalled that the Ministry of Minority Affairs had, earlier this year, constituted the committee to review the existing Haj policy and suggest a framework for a new Haj policy for 2018-22. The committee presented its draft to Naqvi on October 7. Among other recommendations, the committee suggested that women above 45 years of age be allowed to perform Haj, without being accompanied by a 'Mehram' (a male relative by blood), in a group of four or more.
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