Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
In picture: Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi speaks at the launch of the Hajj Android app on Monday, January 2, 2017.Twitter/Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

After Saudi Arabia increased India's annual Hajj quota, debate around subsidy given to Hajj pilgrims has come to the forefront. A six-member committee of experts has been set up by the Union Ministry for minority affairs to look into the subsidy issue.

Hajj pilgrims receive discounted air fares on Air India as subsidy. 

Also read: Hajj 2017: India launches app for online registration for annual pilgrimage; last date is January 24

The ministry, however, said that setting up of the committee doesn't mean that the government would end the subsidy.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted to Minority affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi saying that the subsidy should be ended and the fund should be used to educate girls. 

The BJP government is trying to ascertain if the subsidy can be scrapped, since in 2012, a Supreme Court directive had said that the government should stop the subsidy eventually. 

Saudi Arabia increased India's quota by 34,500 to take it to around 1.70 lakh.

"It is the biggest increase after 1988 in the quota of Hajj pilgrims from India. About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Hajj from 21 embarkation points across India through Hajj Committee of India during 2016. Apart from this, about 36,000 Hajj pilgrims had proceeded for Hajj through private tour operators," Naqvi said.

Apart from Air India subsidy, pilgrims also receive discount on domestic airfare to reach one of the six Hajj takeoff points. 

In a tweet to minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the AIMIM leader said: "Saudi Arabia has increased Hajj Quota... we welcome it @naqvimukhtar Please remove Hajj Subsidy 690 cr allot to Girls Eductn."

Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi, however, said that the subsidy helped those who were less affluent.