Hajj Flights: Soz seeks MEA intervention
Srinagar, Sept 25: Day after this newspaper reported that there would be no direct Hajj flights from Srinagar to Jeddah this year, the state Congress chief Prof Saif-ud-din Soz took up the matter with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
As reported, for the first time in past more than a decade, there would be no direct flight from ‘Srinagar International Airport’ to Saudi Arabia since three gulf-based airliners have won the contracts for Hajj flights from India.
“I discussed the matter in detail with the Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna today and explained to him that the move would put the hajjis from Jammu and Kashmir in lot of trouble,” Soz told Greater Kashmir.
“My argument is that Government of India can allow the Saudi Arabia airliner to operate to Srinagar to fly Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah,” said Soz, a former Union Minister.
Soz said he was intending to meet Ambassador from Saudi Arabia at New Delhi and take up the matter with him also.
“I have also urged External Affairs Minister to take up the matter at the appropriate level with the Saudi government,” Soz said.
When the Srinagar International Airport was commenced in February 2009 by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the authorities had allowed international flights to and from Dubai. However, the flights were shelved soon after for unknown reasons raising questions about the government move.
A senior official at the airport here said there was no problem if the Saudi Arabia airliner was allowed to operate here.
“The airfield is well equipped to facilitate international traffic. We have done it successfully in the past,” the official, wishing anonymity, said.
“If the flight is not allowed directly to Jeddah from Srinagar it is definitely going to send potential bad signal to people,” Soz said.
However he said the External Affairs Minister assured him that he would try his best to seek out the matter and if possible an alternative option for a direct flight from Srinagar could be explored.
“Government needs to take up timely measures. The people in Kashmir have expressed their apprehension that Air India was not eager to organize direct flights to Kashmir,” Soz said.
The state Congress chief said he had also taken up with the Foreign Minister the matter of additional quota of Hajj seats for the aspiring pilgrims from the state.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 26 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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