The Indian government has announced the end of a decades-long policy of giving subsidy to thousands of Muslims heading to the holy city of Mecca to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, India’s minister for minority affairs, said on Tuesday that the move was part of “a policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement”.
“Hajj subsidy funds will be used for the educational empowerment of girls and women from minority communities,” he told reporters in Delhi. The move was welcomed by many Muslim groups in the country.
“This has been a long-standing demand of the Muslim community in India,” Navaid Hamid, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella organisation of several Muslim groups, told Al Jazeera
“This subsidy was used for a long time to denounce the Muslim community, to spread lies that Muslims were being appeased for vote-bank,” added Hamid.