Srinagar, June 06: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha flagged off the first batch of 630 Haj pilgrims from Srinagar International Airport to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage on Wednesday.
Interacting with the pilgrims, the Lieutenant Governor greeted them and wished them well. "I prayed for the blessed pilgrims who are embarking on the sacred journey to perform the Haj to have a successful pilgrimage," he said.
Sinha also prayed for peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as for the well-being of its people.
At the Haj House, Bemina, emotional scenes were seen. Relatives of pilgrims were seen hugging each other and reciting "Allah-ho-Akbar" (God is the greatest) before boarding the buses.
During their pilgrimage, the pilgrims stated that they will pray for peace and prosperity. They also expressed appreciation for the arrangements made at the Bemina Haj house and the Srinagar airport.
As many as 12,000 pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir are going to perform Hajj this year.
Safina Baig, Chairperson, J&K Haj Committee said J&K has the highest quota this year. The first group of 630 pilgrims departed from Srinagar airport.
“For the first, female pilgrims without 'Mahram' (Close relative) will perform Hajj. Over 100 such pilgrims from J&K will perform Hajj this year,” she said.
A total of 40 flights will be operating between June 7 to June 22 from Srinagar International Airport. This year, approximately 12,079 pilgrims from the Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir and 452 from the Union Territory of Ladakh will perform Haj pilgrimage.
Kuldeep Singh Rishi, Director, Srinagar International Airport, stated that special arrangements and preparations are being made at the airport to ensure a smooth transition of Haj pilgrims.
"The first Hajj flight of the year, SpiceJet 5707, departed from Srinagar to Jeddah with a load of 315 pilgrims, and was followed by another flight," he explained.
This year's Hajj operation from the airport will see two flights departing daily from Srinagar International Airport. The number of daily flights may increase to three later this month.
Meanwhile, in the wee hours today, SRTC buses rushed to Hajj House to transport pilgrims to Srinagar International Airport, with scores of family members waving goodbye to their loved ones.
Sara Akhtar, a local pilgrim from Baramulla told Rising Kashmir that it was her good luck that she got an opportunity to perform Hajj without Mahram.
“My husband died in 2017 and for the past 6 years, I had a wish to perform Hajj. This year I got an opportunity,” she said.
Mushtaq Ahmad, another pilgrim from Pampore said they were satisfied with all arrangements made by the local administration at Hajj House. “We will pray for peace and prosperity of Kashmir, he said.
This year, around 12,079 pilgrims from the Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir and 452 from Ladakh UT will perform Haj pilgrimage.
The Haj pilgrims will be received by the Consulate General of India, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI, at Jeddah.
Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Vijay Kumar, ADGP Kashmir; Vijay Kumar Bidhuri, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir; Akshay Labroo, Deputy Commissioner Budgam and members of J&K Haj Committee, senior officers of Airport Authority, Civil and Police administration were present on the occasion.
The pilgrims' return journey is scheduled to begin on July 17, marking the end of their spiritually enriching experience.