The first batch of 550 pilgrims from the state on Saturday left for Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage amid religious slogans and emotional scenes. Two direct flights, each carrying 275 pilgrims, left for the holy city of Madina in Saudi Arabia, marking the departure of the first batch from Jammu and Kashmir, executive officer of state Haj committee Fayaz Ahmad Lone said.
He added that while the first flight left Srinagar International Airport at 2pm, the second departed at 4pm.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah, Haj and Auqaf minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed and senior officers of the state Haj committee were present at the Srinagar airport to see off the pilgrims.
Omar interacted with the pilgrims and prayed for their successful tour to Haj. As many as 8,664 pilgrims are proceeding for Haj from the state this year.
The flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia will operate till September 23, while flights back to the state will operate from October 21 to November 15, an official spokesman said.