Srinagar, Oct 9: The first batch of 253 Hajj pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir Saturday left for the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
As there are no direct Hajj flights to Jeddah from Srinagar this year, 180 pilgrims were today flown by Go Air and 73 by Spice Jet flights to New Delhi on way to Saudi Arabia.
A total of 6,850 Aazmen-e-Hajj of the State are flying through 27 flights from Srinagar to Delhi and thereon to Jeddah this year to perform the pilgrimage. The Hajj flights will continue to operate up to October 29 and arrival of Hajis will start from November 21.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Asgar Samoon flagged off the pilgrims from Hajj House at Bemina here.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah interacted with the pilgrims at Srinagar Airport and inquired from them about the arrangements made by the authorities for them. Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister of State for Hajj and Auqaf, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and senior officers of State administration besides officials of Hajj Committee were present on the occasion.
While the pilgrims expressed satisfaction about the arrangements, they complained about the Centre's decision of not keeping Srinagar airport as one of the embarkation points for the pilgrimage.
The Chief Minister told the Aazmen-i-Haj that the matter has been already taken up with the concerned Union ministries and action in this regard is expected soon.
Till last year, the pilgrims from the state had boarded direct flights from Srinagar airport to Saudi city of Jeddah.
Omar asked the pilgrims to pray for peace in Kashmir Valley and prosperity of the entire state.