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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Tokyo, Jul 31: Indian women's hockey team qualified for the Olympic quarterfinals after 41 years after it beat South Africa 4-3 and later defending champions Great Britain blanked Ireland 2-0 to ensure its passage into the knockout stage, here on Saturday.

India finished their group A league proceedings in fourth place with six points, riding on back-to-back wins over Ireland and South Africa and will now face pool B toppers Australia in the quarter-final on Monday.

The top four teams from each pool made it to the knockout stage.

Indian women team's best finish at the Olympics was in Moscow back in 1980 when they reached the semi-finals but ended fourth.

While Great Britain's win was required, no one can take away credit from Vandana Kataria, who scored a hat-trick in India's win in a pulsating morning clash against the South Africans.

Kataria (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics.

Young Neha Goyal (32nd) was the other goal getter.

South Africa's goals came from the sticks of Tarryn Glasby (15th), skipper Erin Hunter (30th) and Marizen Marais (39th).

"Today's game was really tough, South Africa gave us a really good fight. They converted their chances in the circle. Defensively, we can be a lot better," skipper Rani said.

India's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne heaved a sigh of relief but was not happy with the number of goals his side conceded.

"We gave too many goals away, and I think we can score more goals, that is the main thing for today. We did what we had to do, we had to win this match, and we did," he said.

"Playing in these circumstances, you feel it, the humidity and I think it's more than 35 degrees on the pitch, it does not make it easy, he added.

Needing a win to stay alive in the competition, the Indians meant business and pressed hard on the South African defence from the start.

In doing so, India secured two penalty corners in the first two minutes of the match but drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur's poor execution continued in the tournament.

Still, it didn't take India long to open their account and in the fourth minute, Kataria gave her side the lead, tapping in from close range after being set up by Navneet Kaur's great run from the right flank.

India kept up the pressure and penetrated the South African circle many times without much success.

But seconds from the end of first quarter, a lapse in concentration from the defence cost India dearly as South Africa drew level through Tarryn Glasby, who deflected in a long shot from Taryn Mallett.

India had enough time to regain their lead through a penalty corner but wasted the opportunity.

Two minutes into the second quarter, Kataria restored India's lead when he deflected in Deep Grace Ekka's flick from their fourth penalty corner.

The Indians had three more chances to extend their lead in the second quarter but they couldn't do so.

The Rani Rampal-led side got two more penalty corners which they wasted, and then, Goyal's effort from open play was saved by the South Africa goalkeeper.

Just like in the first quarter, India gave away their lead seconds away from half time when Hunter found the net from her team's first penalty corner.

Two minutes after the change of ends, Goyal restored the lead again, deflecting in a Rani hit from a penalty corner as the Indians executed a fine variation.

The fragile Indian defence wilted under pressure once again, when South Africa drew level for the third time in the match, through a Marais strike.

South Africa enjoyed a good run of play in the initial minutes of final quarter and, in the process, secured three penalty corners quickly, but this time the Indian defence did enough to thwart the danger.

In the 49th minute, a brilliant Kataria saved the day for India when she deflected in Gurjit Kaur's flick from another penalty corner.

Thereafter, the Indians fell back and looked content to keep the possession as South Africa pressed hard.

Two minutes from the final hooter, the Indians successfully referred a penalty corner decision given against them.

"It is about consistency. Yesterday (Friday), we played a really good match. And now we have a back to back and your legs are heavier, things are not going as smoothly. So these things you just know. You saw our basics were not as good as yesterday, it is all about that," Marijne said.

"It is important to play matches. I am not someone, I hope you see that, who ever finds excuses, but we just have not done it. I don't blame anyone, it is just the way it is."

Marijne feels the knockout stage would be different ball game from the group stage.

"The tournament starts again. If you play well, or not well in the pool matches it does not matter, it starts all over.

"It will be another type of game because it is high pressure, everything or nothing. The good thing is we had that in the last two matches, so we have already experienced that."