Abolition of Haj subsidy, women above 45 allowed to travel without male relative


Mumbai: Abolishing subsidy for Haj pilgrims and allowing women above 45 to travel in a group of at least four without a male member are some of the key highlights of a proposed Haj policy drafted by a committee appointed by the Centre, according to reports.

The proposed Haj Policy 2018-22 by the panel headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah also recommends bringing down the number of Embarkation Points (EPs) from which pilgrims can take flights to Saudi Arabia from the present 21 to nine.

The draft was submitted to Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi here today.

Till now, women pilgrims could not travel without a male Mehram. The term Mehram refers to a male a woman cannot marry at any time in her life (i.e. father, brother or son etc) Women aged below 45, however, will have to be accompanied by male Mehrams, according to the policy.

It proposes to increase the quota for Mehrams from 200 to 500.

The draft policy also recommended that the Haj Committee of India be exempted from income tax, goods and services tax (GST) and other local taxes. The air charter services provided for the benefit of pilgrims too should be exempted from service tax/GST.

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