Demanding a ban on government sponsoring or funding any religious congregations, tours or festivities, All India Majlis E Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Member of the Parliament (MP) Imtiaz Jaleel has called for the money used on these purposes to be diverted for healthcare and the social sector. Jaleel, who represents Aurangabad in the Lok Sabha, also demanded that the State take over the funds of dargahs and temples and utilise them for public welfare.
“Claims of Maharashtra being a developed state stand exposed in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jaleel, adding that patients in both urban and rural areas were facing problems getting access to quality medical care. This crisis, he added, was a wake up call for the system to strengthen its health infrastructure.
“I will request the government to stop funding religious events. Their costs should be borne by the community itself, be it Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs. This money can instead be used to augment heath infrastructure. After all, these hospitals will be accessed by everyone regardless of caste or religion,” said Jaleel, a former journalist. He added that the AIMIM had sought that the Rs 700 crore Haj subsidy be scrapped, and this money be used for womens’ education. However, while the subsidy was stopped by the Centre in 2018, these funds were not being used to educate girls.
Jaleel demanded that governments should stop funding any yatras, melas and utsavs, and also take control of the corpus of dargahs and temples, which generate crores as donations. “This money is collected in the name of faith. It must be taken over by the government and used for a public cause,” he urged. Else, these trusts could be asked to launch medical colleges or hospitals.
Jaleel said he opposed the construction of statues and memorials, including those for late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde, or any other politician from public money, and sought that these funds be used for constructing hospitals. Any memorials for politicians must be built through the monetary contribution of their followers instead of the government giving land and money for it, he urged.