An Indian Muslim pilgrim bids farewell to a relative at Haj House in Hyderabad in this file photo. (Photo by AFP)
An Indian government-appointed panel has recommended the abolishing of a subsidy given to Muslims for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
The proposed Hajj Policy 2018-22 has been drafted in light of a 2012 Supreme Court direction to gradually reduce and then remove the subsidy by 2022, the IANS reported.
Hajj subsidy is given to those who go through the Haj Committee of India and has in recent years cost the Indian exchequer up to 7 billion rupees (US$ 107 million).
The draft policy also proposes to partially quash an earlier rule that barred women Haj aspirants to travel without a close male family member such as husband, father or brother.
This year, the Hajj quota for India — home to the world's third largest Muslim population — was increased to 170,025, of which 125,025 was allocated to the Hajj committee, IANS reported. The rest was taken up by private tour operators.