Record number of Indian pilgrims head for Haj
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, during a ceremonial send-off Tuesday, asked Haj pilgrims from India to pay attention to their security.
Over 170,000 Muslims from India will embark on the annual pilgrimage this year.
Krishna said the government attached the highest importance to facilitating the pilgrimage and paid close attention to the arrangements in India and Saudi Arabia.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit was also present during the ceremony held here.
"I am happy to tell you that a record number of 1,25,000 Haj pilgrims will be traveling through the Haj Committee on 525 return flights," Krishna said, adding that another 45,431 pilgrims were travelling through private tour operators.
Bhopal and Goa have been added as new embarkation points from this year, in addition to the existing 19.
"While I wish all the pilgrims the very best, I also request them to pay adequate attention to all aspects of their security and well-being," he said.
For the first time in 45 years, India's national carrier Air India will not transport the Haj pilgrims. Three Saudi carriers -- Saudi Arabian Airlines, Al-Wafer and Nasair -- will operate 431 flights for the pilgrims.