Guidelines for Haj excludes PWDs in Telangana: Rights activists

Groups working for rights of persons with disabilities raise issue with the Centre, ask that the discriminatory rules be changed.

Published: 02nd January 2018 02:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd January 2018 07:24 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced in the new Haj guidelines a provision for Muslim women (aged above 45 years) to go for Haj without a mahram (an adult, male blood relative or husband), disabled rights activists recalled how the eligibility guidelines for Haj exclude them and also violate the laws that are in their favour. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had mentioned the same during his last speech of 2017 bringing the matter to everyone’s attention.

A group of organisations working for the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have made a representation to the government after the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in its Guidelines for Haj, stated certain criteria which bars them from going for Haj. The guidelines state, “that any citizen of India who is a Muslim can apply for Haj, except those who do not have the mental or physical health to perform the pilgrimage, those affected with polio, tuberculosis, congestive cardiac and respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease/disability.”

Activists have pointed out that this is a violation of all the laws, including the recent Rights of PWDs Act, 2016, which stresses on equality and non-discrimination of any kind. In a representation to Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, around 15 organisations, including one from Telangana, and individuals have pointed out these violations. 

V Muralidharan from the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled said that the applications for the 2018 Haj Pilgrimage have been closed and they are hoping that changes will be made for the next year. “How can there be a criteria for someone who wants to go on a pilgrimage? The State cannot come in the way of someone’s religion or spirituality.

The RPWD Act, 2016, talks about making every space accessible and ensuring that the rights of PWDs are fulfilled,” he pointed out. Further, the terms used to define PWDs are derogatory and abusive, he added.  Another PWD, with a locomotor disability, said in the representation that this is a blatant exclusion. The organisations will soon be meeting the minister to highlight the issue.

Thank God Charminar was already built, else Modi would have taken credit:

Asad Hyderabad: Disputing the claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that it was his government (at the Centre) that made it possible for Muslim women to perform Haj without being accompanied by guardian, Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Monday said it was the Saudi authorities who made the regulation many years back. “This regulation was passed by Saudi Haj authorities many years ago,” Owaisi said. Taking a jibe at Modi for taking credit for the regulation, Owaisi retorted, “It is gods grace that Taj Mahal and Charminar were already built, otherwise he (Modi) would have claimed that he had constructed them.” If the prime minister was so concerned about Muslim women, he should ensure justice for Zakia Jafri, wife of deceased Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, he added.

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