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Civil Rights Group’s Pressure on MEA Over “Government Quota” in Hajj

Afroz Alam Sahil  BeyondHeadlines

Advocate KA Qureshi has send a notice to the Ministry of External Affairs on behalf of Bharat Banao Samiti, a Pune based non-governmental organization, for the eradication of the “government quota” in the allotment of Hajj pilgrimage.

Qureshi, who is also the President of the organization, has filed this in the “interest of the hajj pilgrims and public at large.” His argument is that Hajj Committee is a Constitutional body and that the MEA has “no right to get reserve quota” as “there is no such provision in Hajj Committee Act 2002.”

PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the 2003 Hajj Goodwill Delegation

More than 1.25 lakh pilgrims go on Hajj under subsidised scheme, who are selected by a random lottery process. However, 11,000 of these 1.25 lakh go under the “government quota,” chosen by MPs. Qureshi is against the preferential treatment given to some Muslims who go on pilgrimage under ‘government quota.’

He told BeyondHeadlines: “Government has no right to reserve any quota. It’s illegal and improper liable to be set aside by challenging the same in the High Court.”

He also added, “Government has no right to interfere in the allotment process of Hajj pilgrims by the Hajj Committee of India as it will cause great damage to independent exercise of its working, mandated by the Constitution.”

According to Qureshi such preferential treatment increases “corruption, malpractices, and partiality in the selection of Hajj pilgrims”.

BeyondHeadlines had in broken the story on March 16  that twenty to fifty high profile Muslim politicians, journalists, clerics, leaders, etc go on “Hajj Goodwill Delegation,” on which crores of public money are spent.

Afroz can be reached at afroz@beyondheadlines.in

(Related Story: Govt Spent Rs 3,554.78 Crore on Hajj Subsidy Last Decade)

(Correction: In the story originally published on March 31, the distinction between “government quota” and “Goodwill Delegation” was not distinctly made.  Goodwill delegation is separately sent for which Government pays. However, in the government quota, individuals have to pay. They only get preferences over other applicants through recommendations by MPs. Updated on April 1)

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