Srinagar: Emotional scenes were witnessed at Srinagar Hajj House on Sunday as the first batch of Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
Following the Covid pandemic in 2020 followed by the travel restrictions, it was the first-ever batch of pilgrims to depart for Hajj after the gap of two years.
As per the officials, 145 pilgrims boarded the flight Srinagar International Airport at 9:50 am.
They said the first batch of pilgrims left Srinagar on a direct flight to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
As per officials, around 6000 pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir are scheduled to perform the holy pilgrimage after two years.
The JKRTC Buses beelined Hajj house to take pilgrims to Srinagar International Airport, with scores of family members seeing off their relatives in the early morning of Sunday.
“We have been waiting for this day for years. I had applied several times and at times I did not make it to the selection list. Then the covid hit and our wait was prolonged. Thankfully I made it to the list and even Covid subsided allowing us to perform the holy pilgrimage,” said a pilgrim while tears rolled down his eyes.
Mushtaq Ahmed, who had come to see off two of his family members at Hajj House, said that they have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
He said that as the COVID cases used to rise, the hopes were diminishing over the past two years but “now Almighty Allah has eased matters,” he added.
“Now it is a happy moment to see the wait of Kashmir’s Hajj pilgrims is over. Our two family members were shortlisted last year as well but unfortunately, the covid played a dampener. Now we are thankful to Allah that this time the moment came and all the pilgrims will be able to perform this holy pilgrimage,” Ahmed said.
The pilgrims while talking to the media at Hajj House said that they will make special prayers for the peace and prosperity of Kashmir.
“We will make special prayers for the peace and prosperity in Kashmir and the whole world. We hope and pray that every Muslim will get the opportunity to perform this holy pilgrimage. We will make special prayers for our forgiveness and also for the interfaith harmony in Kashmir,” said another pilgrim.
Officials said that all the formalities were conducted in online mode for the ease of pilgrims. They said all the health check-ups were done including COVID tests so that the pilgrims will go on without any inconvenience.
Officials from JKRTC said that they had pressed their buses to ferry pilgrims from Hajj House to Srinagar International Airport.
While talking to Greater Kashmir, Ahfaq Hussain, Manager Tourist Services said that their division had pressed nine AC buses to ferry 145 pilgrims.
“We are going to increase the number of buses as per the requirement. SRTC will provide all the help to make the holy pilgrimage comfortable for the pilgrims,” said Ahfaq. Senior officials from the administration advised the pilgrims to follow all the advisories and take good care of their health. They said that the administration will provide all the facilities.
While talking to Greater Kashmir, Abdul Salam Mir, Executive Officer, J&K Hajj Committee said that the first batch was send-off smoothly and in the coming days, the administration will ensure everything goes on without any inconvenience.
“All the pilgrims have been administered both COVID doses and we have done the RTPCR tests of all the pilgrims that were also negative. We advise all the pilgrims of forthcoming batches to take good care of their health and avoid gatherings. Today there was one flight scheduled that carried 145 pilgrims. From June 9 to June 11, there will be two daily flights and three daily flights after June 11 till all the pilgrims will leave for the pilgrimage,” Mir said. Mir said that the administration had put all the facilities in place and many senior officials including Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Principal Secretary, and Government advisors had come to see off the first batch of Hajj pilgrims.