New Delhi, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday flagged off the first batch of Hajj pilgrims from Indira Gandhi International Airport here.
Extending good wishes to the pilgrims, Mr Naqvi urged them to pray for peace, prosperity, harmony and brotherhood in the nation and the entire world.
Delhi Revenue and Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot, Hajj Committee of India Chairman Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser, Delhi Haj Committee Chairman and MLA Mohammad Ishraq Khan, Minority Affairs Ministry Secretary Ameizing Luikham, Joint Secretary Jane Alam bid farewell to the pilgrims.
Over 1,200 pilgrims are leaving Delhi for Hajj in three flights today. Besides Delhi, 450 pilgrims from Gaya, 269 from Guwahati, 900 from Lucknow and 1,020 pilgrims from Srinagar are going today for Hajj.
Mr Naqvi said the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia Haj Consulate, Hajj Committee of India and other concerned agencies, had completed preparations for Haj 2018 well before in time to ensure smooth Haj pilgrimage.An amount of Rs 57 crore less is being paid to airlines this year for pilgrims going through Hajj Committee of India, Mr Naqvi said.
Despite the removal of the Hajj subsidy and various new taxes imposed in Saudi Arabia, there was no additional financial burden on the pilgrims.
Mr Naqvi noted that the first time after the Independence, a record 1,75,025 Muslims from the country are going to Hajj this year that too without any additional financial burden.
More than 47 per cent females are going for the pilgrimage this year and for the first time, 1,308 Muslim women from India are also going to Haj without “Mehram” (male companion).
On July 17, pilgrims from Kolkata; on July 20, pilgrims from Varanasi; on July 21, pilgrims from Mangalore; on July 26, pilgrims from Goa; on July 29, pilgrims from Aurangabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Nagpur; on July 30, pilgrims from Ranchi; on August 1, pilgrims from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Hyderabad and Jaipur and on August 3, pilgrims from Bhopal, will embark for Hajj.