Indian pilgrims began arriving in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The special charter Haj flight of Air India with 419 pilgrims from New Delhi arrived in Madina.

This year, a record 2 lakh Indians are slated to perform Haj. Indian Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Haj Consul Y. Sabir and other officials welcomed the pilgrims at the airport. Of the 2 lakh Indian pilgrims, 1.4 lakh will perform the rite through Haj Committee of India (HCOI), a Government of India body, while the remaining 60,000 will go through private tour operators.

Of the 1.4 lakh HCOI pilgrims, 63,000 are scheduled to arrive in Madina till July 21, Indian Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh said. Remaining 77,000 pilgrims will arrive in Jeddah from July 20 to August 5, he said.

Those Hajis who will arrive in Jeddah from India will move from Makkah to Madina after Haj from August 19, and will depart from Madina for India after an eight-day stay. Explaining the departure of pilgrims, the Consul General said Hajis who will arrive in Madina from India will depart from Jeddah starting from August 16. The departure of Hajis will end on September 14, he said.

The pilgrims were accommodated in Markazia near the Prophet Mosque. Indian Ambassador and other diplomats visited the accommodation. The Indian Haj Mission introduced pre-allotment of buildings in Madina whereby rooms of Hajis are allotted prior to their departure from India for Madina.

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