There is an article in news18 website today wondering who, in the new BJP Government in UP, will head the Haj department. The article expresses worry about the lack of a Muslim MLA from BJP who could head this department.
This question, and the subsequent discussion that emerged on Social Media, encouraged me to look at the approach of the UP Government towards pilgrimages. For comparison purposes, I picked up the Haj pilgrimage performed by Muslims and the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra performed by Hindus.
The following facts and figures give a decent picture about the attitude of the Uttar Pradesh Government (2012-2017) towards the 2 pilgrimages
Kailash Manasarovar Yatra:
- Managed by the “dharmaarth” department of UP government
- Provides a subsidy of Rs 50,000 per pilgrim out of the total cost of Rs 1.44 lakhs that is incurred
- As per this report, the total number of pilgrims who travel to Kailash Manasarovar from UP are around 35 at the max. This was in 2012. Let us assume this number has increased to around 100 in 2016-17 since the total number of yatris in 2014 was around 1250.
- The total expenditure on the yatra is therefore around 50 lakhs at the maximum
- Managed by the Minority affairs ministry of the UP Government
- A separate Haj department operates under the MoMA, UP Government
- In 2016 a total of 24000 people from UP performed Haj.
- The ministry of civil aviation, Government of India, provides a travel subsidy of an average of (roughly) 40,000 per person for every Haj pilgrim from UP. This comes up to around 96 crores.
- The UP Government has budgeted an amount of 2.05 crores for the Haj department in the year 2016-17
- In addition, the following grants have been given as part of the benefits granted for Haj travellers.
- Haj guest house at Ghaziabad built in 2013-14 at a cost of 27 crores
- Haj guest house at Varanasi at the cost of 10 crores
It is clear that the grant of subsidies for pilgrimages is totally sectarian. This is the real issue that must be tackled by the new BJP Government at UP. #core demands that there be uniformity in allocation and usage of resources for such purposes.
There are a number of other “Yatras” that religious Hindus undertake, such as the Char Dham Yatra, Tirupati Yatra, Shirdi Yatra and so on. #core means a proportional amount of resources be spent by the State for Hindus to undetake such Yatras as well.