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JK: First batch of Haj pilgrims takes off

By Mukhtar Ahmad
October 20, 2009 19:59 IST
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The first batch of 401 state pilgrims on Tuesday left for Haj in two Air India flights from the Srinagar international airport.

The holy pilgrimage began this morning from the state-of-the-art Haj House where the pilgrims after assembling went through various formalities like customs, emigration, foreign exchange and check-in under one roof required for the journey.

In all 7700 pilgrims selected through draw of lots from 2,1163 applicants will perform Haj this year from Jammu and Kashmir state.

In the run-up to their departure, the pilgrims underwent a host of compulsory health checks and vaccinations.

The pilgrims were first time subjected to compulsory swine flu check at a special counter opened inside the Haj house where the pilgrims reported several hours ahead of their scheduled departure.

The pilgrims were seen off at the airport by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Omar expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the state administration and state Haj committee.

Abdul Salam, executive officer state Haj committee told that Air India would operate 38 flights to carry pilgrims to Jeddah from the Srinagar international airport till November 7.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar