Srinagar: The first batch of 270 Haj pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir on Monday embarked on the journey to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah accompanied by Haj and Auqaf Minister Aijaz Ahmad Khan flagged off the group which boarded the direct flight at Srinagar International Airport to the holy city of Madinah amid tight security.

Omar asked the pilgrims to pray for peace, prosperity and well-being of the people of the state and the country during their stay in the holy land.

Dressed in white, the pilgrims arrived at the Haj house at Bemina here in the wee hours as hundreds of their relatives and well wishers came to see them off to the pilgrimage. Slogans in praise of the God and chants of 'Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik' (I am coming to you, Oh Lord) rented the air.

The Chief Minister also wished the pilgrims good health and success in performing all requirements of the pilgrimage.

More than 9,000 pilgrims from the state will be performing the Haj this year which will culminate with Eidul Azha.

He also enquired from them about the facilities provided by the concerned agencies at the Hajj House, Airport and other places to them.

Omar expressed the hope that the operation of direct flights from Srinagar to Madinah by Indian Airlines after a gap of two years will make the journey of Hajjis hassle-free.

(Agencies)

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