The Union government on Tuesday scrapped the Haj subsidy for pilgrims as the fund will instead be used for the empowerment of minorities from this year.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the Haj subsidy funds will now be used for the education of girls and women of the minority community.
"When we say development with dignity, then we must also say Haj with Dignity. Around 1.75 lakh people will go to Haj this year. We are in support of strengthening the minority. Haj subsidy funds will be used for educational empowerment of girls and women of the minority community," he told the media.
However, there is an exception to the rules for the poor and people over 70 years of age.
Yesterday, Naqvi took to Twitter and expressed happiness saying Saudi Arabia has given a green signal for India''s decision to revive the option of Haj pilgrimage through sea route.
He said that officials from both the countries will discuss on all the formalities and technicalities so that it can be re-started in the coming years.
Naqvi also stated that Muslim women in India have been allowed to travel for Haj without a ''Mehram'', or a male guardian.
A bilateral agreement was signed in connection with Haj 2018 during the meeting between Naqvi and Saudi Arabia''s Haj and Umrah Minister Muhammad Benten.
Naqvi met with Dr Benten at his office in Mecca on Sunday for signing the annual Haj agreement.
A total of 1,70,000 Indian pilgrims are expected to travel for Haj in 2018.(ANI)