The Indian Airlines has agreed to operate direct Hajj flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia this year. The heartening news was given at a meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir State Hajj Committee chaired by the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, here Tuesday.
Omar, who also heads the J-K SHC, said direct Hajj flights would make the pilgrimage smooth and relieve the intending pilgrims of the inconvenience caused by trans-shipment of luggage from one aircraft to another.
The chief minister asked the SHC authorities to take every care for pilgrims accommodation, stay at the Hajj House, immigration, customs clearance and other facilities. For this purpose, he asked them to publish a guide indicating details of facilities, emergency services, enquiry, dos and donts and related issues to help the pilgrims during the holy journey.
Omar asked the SHC authorities to provide SIM cards to Khuddam-ul-Hujjaj as introduced during Hajj-2011 to enable their availability to the pilgrims for assistance and guidance.
The meeting was told highest number of over 9100 pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir would perform Hajj this year. The quota has been increased from last years 8441 to 8670, highest in last four years. The private travel operators would conduct another 500 pilgrims.
In a power point presentation, commissioner / secretary, Hajj and Auqaf, B A Runiyal said the first Hajj flight would operate on 17th of this month and each day 270 pilgrims would be flown from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia. There would be one flight for one day and two flights for eight days.
The Indian Airlines authorities told the meeting Hajj flights would take off from Srinagar and after refueling at Sharjah fly to Madinah-al-Munawwarah.
The minister of state for Hajj, Ajaz Ahmad Khan, said return flights from Saudi Arabia had been arranged under first schedule to avoid hardship due to winter-related weather vagaries.
Among others, the divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Dr Asgar Hasan Samoon, who is also the convener of the SHC, the director of Srinagar International Airport and other senior officials, were present. Observer News Service
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.