The fair of Haj pilgrims flying from the central government's Haj Committee is increasing every year. In one way, the government's Haj fair is almost coming equivalent to the price of private Haj. The private agencies take on the tour with full facilities; such as food, lodging, etc. However, Haj rates of the government are silently getting dearer.

The fair of the Haj pilgrims flying from Mangaluru Airport in 2018' government quota has increased to Rs 2,63,450 and Rs. 2,29,250 for Green and Azeeziya categories respectively. An increase of about 80 to 90 thousand compared to last five years. The government is charging extra money from every pilgrim.

Let's look at the past three years' fairs. In 2016, the central government charged Rs 2,19,450 and Rs 1,85,550 for Green and Azeeziya categories respectively for the Haj pilgrims flying from Mangaluru. In 2017, it was 2,39,150 and 2,05,750. That means, an increase of Rs. 20,000 in merely a year. Again from 2017 to 2018 there is an increase of Rs. 25,000. In all, the central government is systematically looting the Haj pilgrims with a steep increase of Rs. 45,000 from 2016 to 2018. 

Let us now know the exact cost of the Haj pilgrimage. The government arranges a staying of 40 days at Mecca and Medina for pilgrims. The government does nothing more than Haj visa, flight tickets, accommodation, vaccinations, and treatment related to primary health problems. The maximum expense for this service comes to Rs.1,20,000 and Rs 95,000 for both the categories respectively if compared to the market price in 2018.

The cost of food and visiting the surrounding areas has to be looked over by the pilgrim itself. Separate charges must be paid to Haj Committee if the pilgrim wants Qurbani arrangement. Rs 25,000 for flight tickets, Mecca hotel room 50,000 (25 days), Madina hotel room 20,000 (15 days) is being charged apart from Rs. 25,000 for other expenses (visa, medical, postage, camp, staff, etc.). In all, it comes to Rs. 1,20,000. This is for the Green category.

Whereas for the Azeezia category, the total cost may come up to Rs. 95,000 as hotel rooms in this category will be given little far in Mecca. This calculation is as per today's market. So how and where the government fair is getting doubled? Who is taking benefit out of this? These are some of the many unanswered questions as of now. The government must stop giving false reasons of Saudi Riyal getting stronger than Indian Rupee every year.

The Haj pilgrims use to get 2,100 Saudi Riyals at the airport until the last year. Haj aspirants of this year may also have the hope to get the same amount of Riyals this year too. But, it has already been announced that there is no government subsidy this year. Central government must let the public know what it is doing with the one lakh extra money it is getting from every Haj pilgrim. As the central government is charging one lakh extra from around 1,25,000 pilgrims, it is even difficult for a calculator to calculate how much amount the central government is looting from Haj pilgrims every year.

Haj is one of the five pillars of the Islam. According to Islam, a Haj pilgrimage must display the spirit of unity, brotherhood, and tolerance. Enimity must be thrown away. Haji must get clean from all impurities. Only the Hajj of a Muslim gets complete. It is maybe because of this a Haj pilgrim completes his Haj by tolerating all the chaos of the government and pays extra money which government wants to loot.

Like a newborn, a haji returns with a pure mind. The government should understand this. As the amendments to the Haj subsidy and other Haj Acts done; in the same way, the central government must stop looting the extra money from Haj pilgrims and must take the responsibility of providing quality service to the extent of the excess amount they are charging. If not, then there will be a curse of exploiting a community.

Rasheed Vittla is a member of D.K district wakf.

 

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Cooch Behar (WB), May 13: West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was on Thursday shown black flags at Sitalkuchi, where four villagers died after firing by central forces during the elections, while "go back" slogans were raised at Dinhata during his visit to Cooch Behar district to meet people allegedly affected in post poll violence.

Earlier in the day, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who is on a controversial visit to assess post-poll violence in the district said he was shocked by incidents of attacks following the West Bengal assembly elections.

"The country is facing a COVID crisis, and West Bengal is facing twin challenges of the pandemic and unprecedented post-poll violence only (as) some people decided to vote as per their own choice," he said.

The run up to the visit was marked by a war of words between the Governor and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with the chief minister writing a letter on Wednesday claiming the visit violated established norms as it was being undertaken unilaterally without consultations with the state government.

She also claimed the Governor was by-passing the state council of ministers and dictating directly to state officials, which was violative of the constitution.

An agitated Dhankhar came out of his car at Dinhata and reprimanded police officials for allegedly not acting to prevent slogan-shouting protesters, who numbered around 15 and had assembled with posters saying "BJP's governor go back".

"I am shocked, this is total collapse of rule of law, I could never imagine such a thing could happen," he told reporters.

Police officials chased the protesters away from the spot.

"I have seen fear in the eyes of people and they are afraid to go to the police station to file complaints," Dhankhar said about his interaction with people in post-poll hit villages.

The Governor visited Mathabhanga, Sitalkuchi, Sitai and Dinhata and talked to people who claimed to have suffered attacks at the hands of ruling Trinamool Congress supporters after election results were announced on May 2.

Dhankhar, who visited several households at the four places, said "homes have been looted and even ornaments kept for girl's marriage, utensils and other items for 'shradh' were taken away."

The governor was also shown black flags by some persons at Golokganj when his convoy travelled from Mathabhanga to Sitalkuchi, as a posse of policemen put up human walls to prevent protesters from coming down on to the road.

Posters and placards criticising the visit of the governor were also seen at Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi, the scene of firing by central armed police force personnel that killed four persons on April 10 during the fourth phase of polling in the West Bengal assembly elections.

"History will judge Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister. History will also judge Jagdeep Dhankhar, the governor, and it will judge the bureaucracy and the media," Dhankar said, interacting with the media.

Claiming that he did not get any response from the state government despite efforts being made to get information about the post-poll violence, Dhankhar said the state government must provide him with required information under Article 167 of the Constitution.

The Governor pointed out that "during elections, she (the chief minister) had publicly said the central armed police force will not be there always and she will see after that.

"This kind of challenge and behaviour is not acceptable under the constitution," he added.

BJP MP Nisith Pramanik accompanied the governor during his visit to the areas, where the saffron party has alleged loot and attack on its workers.

Some women wailed and fell to the feet of the governor claiming that all their belongings were looted and that the men of their families had fled their homes to escape attacks.

Reacting to the visit, veteran TMC MP and party spokesperson Sougata Ray said "He (Dhankhar) did not listen to the state government and went to Cooch Behar. He went there in the company of a BJP leader. His conduct is unconstitutional".

"Previously we had written a letter to the president against this governor. If the CM says, we will send another letter against him to the president," Ray said.

The TMC in December last year had written to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking to remove Jagdeep Dhankhar from the post of governor, accusing him of "transgressing constitutional limits" by regularly commenting against the state administration in public.

Terming the Governors conduct as unbecoming, senior TMC leader and minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay added "the governor is doing politics over stray post-poll incidents, (to contain) which the state government has taken all necessary steps. He is doing politics when the state is busy fighting the pandemic. We wish that the governor and the state government work together to fight the Covid situation.

The governor said he will on Friday visit camps in Assam where BJP workers, who reportedly fled from West Bengal owing to the post-poll violence, have been staying.