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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This report was first published in thewire.in and has been posted here without any alterations or editing. To read the original report, CLICK HERE
New Delhi: Over 650 members of civil society have demanded a stop to the ‘vendetta politics’ against Harsh Mander and other activists, adding that the Centre has been “misusing” regulatory institutions and laws like the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA) to harass civil society institutions.
The statement comes after a case was registered under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act over alleged violations by two shelter homes in South Delhi which were established by the Centre for Equity Studies (CES), an NGO that Mander is associated with.
In the statement, the signatories said that the Centre’s targeting of Mander, a former IAS officer, and the CES is a continuation of the “politics of vendetta” and is symptomatic of how “those who dissent are being dealt with in India today”.
“The egregious attacks on the Centre for Equity Studies ranging from wild accusations of sexual misconduct in two of the children’s homes run by the organisation to the fishing expedition being undertaken by the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police are but two examples of the recent attacks on Harsh Mander and the institutions associated with him,” the statement says.
Condemning “the attacks on Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies”, the signatories demanded an end to “vendetta politics” and that regulatory institutions and laws should not be “misused” to harass civil society institutions. “Allow democratic spaces for civil society to operate and give due recognition of their role in nation-building,” the added.
The full statement, along with the list of signatories, has been reproduced below.
Civil Society statement for Harsh Mander/Centre for Equity Studies
Stop vendetta politics against civil society and persecution of citizens associated with civil society
One of the most disturbing trends in India in the recent years, along with the decline in Constitutional values and shrinking space for civil society, is the demonisation and persecution of activists and organisations. The active hounding of Harsh Mander, a former bureaucrat and one of the most respected names in civil society, and the institutions he is associated with like the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) is the most recent example of the vendetta politics of the government.
An officer of the Indian Administrative Service, Harsh Mander quit the civil service in 2002 in the wake of the Gujarat riots and has since then been a part of significant civil society initiatives. He has served as the head of ActionAid India, co-founder of the Centre for Equity Studies, co-founder of Karwan-e-Mohabbat – an initiative to promote love and communal harmony, and was member of the National Advisory Council chaired by the Chairperson of the UPA. His close association with people’s movements including the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) amongst others, gave him a unique perspective on social changes processes that is rare amongst social activists. Throughout his career, Harsh Mander’s central concerns have been the most marginalised people in India – the urban homeless, leprosy patients, Dalits and Muslims, and children living on the streets.
It is this aspect of his work that encapsulated the activities of the Centre for Equity Studies since it was founded more than two decades ago. Over the years, CES has emerged as one of the leading pro-poor policy institutions, bridging grassroots actions with constructive engagement on social policy. Till 2014, CES ran a network of 51 children’s homes across the country covering hundreds of children and was responsible for the Central Government’s guidelines on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for street children. CES brings out the annual India Exclusion Report which has emerged as one of the most authoritative report on social exclusion covering the most marginalised communities in the country. Between 2004 and 2014, CES was part of many of the processes for landmark rights-based legislations like the National Food Security Act and the Right to Information Act.
That the current regime has now chosen to target a distinguished civil society organisation like CES in the continuing politics of vendetta to silence Harsh Mander is symptomatic of how those who dissent are being dealt with in India today. The egregious attacks on the Centre for Equity Studies ranging from wild accusations of sexual misconduct in two of the children’s homes run by the organisation to the fishing expedition being undertaken by the Economics Offences Wing of Delhi Police are but two examples of the recent attacks on Harsh Mander and the institutions associated with him.
As civil society leaders representing a very wide range of constituencies and work across the country, we unequivocally condemn the attacks on Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies and demand:
- An end to vendetta politics towards Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies
- Stop misusing regulatory institutions and laws like the FCRA to harass Civil Society institutions
- Allow democratic spaces for civil society to operate and give due recognition of their role in nation building