Hundreds of relatives and friends, who gathered at the Haj House at Nampally here on Saturday, cheered the first batch of Haj pilgrims who left the city for Mecca on a month-long pilgrimage.
There was excitement and jubilation as the first bus, full of Hajis clad in Ehram, rolled out of the Haj House, and the near and dear ones wished the Hajis well. It was flagged off by chief minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy.
In all 8,158 pilgrims are scheduled to embark on the Haj from Hyderabad by 26 chartered flights between October 6 and 19.
“Let the journey be an altogether different experience and I wish all the Hajis will return safe and enlightened and pray for everyone here,” the chief minister said. He said his government sanctioned Rs 3 crore for construction of a new Haj House on a spacious land near the airport at Shamshabad. “I have asked the minister concerned to speed up the process of construction as the dispute over the land has been settled. Further, Rs 489 crore was earmarked in this year’s budget towards scholarships and other facilities for minority students and the government is taking steps to see that all Muslim children are admitted to schools and receive proper education,’’ Reddy said.
To Help Haj pilgrims at the Haj House, the government has provided guides who can speak in Urdu, Telugu and English, is conducting a medical camp, providing boarding and lodging, immigration assistance, transport from the Haj house to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport by RTC buses.
Elated over the arrangements, Jaleel Aslam said it was his family’s first-ever trip to Mecca. There was no discrimination and even an illiterate or underprivileged got the same treatment, he said. Echoing his view, Mohammed Saleem, who also hails from the old city, said, “We are guests of God. Everything has been decided by Him and there comes a time for everything. We are going to pray for everyone”.
Minorities welfare minister Ahmedullah, former ministers Shabbir Ali and Fareeduddin, AP State Wakf Board chariman Syed Afzal Biyabani and AP State Haj Committee chairman Syed Khaleeluddin Ahmed were present.