SRINAGAR The first batch of over 300 pilgrims from Kashmir left for Saudi Arabia Thursday to perform the annual Muslim pilgrimage Haj.
Governor S P Malik flagged off the first flight of 152 Hajis for Medina which left from the Srinagar International Airport Thursday morning, an official spokesman said.
On the first day, 304 pilgrims, including 160 males and 144 females, embarked for the pilgrimage through two flights with 152 Hajis each, the spokesman said.
The first flight carried 67 pilgrims from Srinagar District, 50 from Baramulla, 11 from Budgam, 08 from Kupwara, 05 from Anantnag, 05 from Pulwama, 04 from Bandipora and 02 from Shopian.
He said the Governor interacted with a number of Hajis and extended his best wishes to them for their safe and highly satisfying pilgrimage.
Malik urged the pilgrims to pray for welfare and development of the state and for promoting harmony and peace, the spokesman said.
He said this year, 11,700 Hajis from the state will be proceeding for the Haj. They will travel in daily flights till 29 July, embarking from the Srinagar International Airport.
J&K Gets 2000 More Hajj Seats
Jammu and Kashmir gets 2000 Hajj seats among the surplus seats generated by underutilized quota of states as a special measure, parliament was informed on Thursday.
Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, minister of minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said In 2013, the Haj quota allocated to India was 1,36,020 and in the last five years, it has increased by 63,980.This year, 2,00,000 pilgrims would be going for Haj and all of them would perform haj without any subsidy. This is a record number in the history of India, he said.
Out of the total quota of 2,00,000 pilgrims, he said a 1,40,000 pilgrims has been allocated to Haj Committee of India (HCoI) and 60,000 pilgrims to Haj Group Organisers (HGOs), earlier known as Private Tour Operators (PTOs). In this 60,000 allocation, quota of 10,000 seats would go to economically weaker section at HCoI rates.
The Government of India, he said, has adopted a very transparent and 100% digital system and created Haj portals for pilgrims and HGOs, he said.
This time, in 18 states, 100% applicants are going for Haj. The quota allocated to HCoI is distributed amongst the States/UTs on the basis of their respective Muslim population, based on the 2011 census figures, he said, adding, The surplus seats generated by underutilized quota of states are utilized for providing 500 seats to Mehram, 2000 seats to state of Jammu & Kashmir as a special measure, full quota to States/Union Territories receiving 500 or less Haj application forms but have not been able to satisfy all of the applicants and for the ladies going for Haj without Mehram.
The quota still remaining is further allocated to States/Union Territories in proportion of number of applications received, he added.