First batch of J

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Srinagar, Dec 25 (UNI) The first batch of 206 Haj pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir returned here today from Jeddah.

Of these, 106 were men and 100 women.

The pilgrims were received at Srinagar's Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport by Jammu and Kashmir Haj and Auqaf Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed.

The pilgrims expressed satisfaction over the arrangements, including accommodation, made by the Jammu and Kashmir Haj Committee in Saudi Arabia during the annual pilgrimage.

However, a few pilgrims said they faced some difficulties as far as accommodation in Saudi Arabia was concerned.

The first batch had left here for Jeddah on November 11.

Today's return of the first batch marked the commencement of the arrival schedule of the Haj pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir.

According to officials, as many as 111 Haj pilgrims from India had died at the twin Islamic holy cities of Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage.

Majority of the pilgrims had died of cardiac arrest.

Of the dead pilgrims, five were from Jammu and Kashmir while 26 each from Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, eleven from Maharashtra, eight from Tamil Nadu, seven from Andhra Pradesh, six from Assam, five from West Bengal, three each from Karnataka, Bihar and Gujarat, two each from Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand and one each from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, the officials said.

Another woman pilgrim from Jammu and Kashmir had died at Makkah on Sunday after performing Haj.

In a statement earlier, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a ruling coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir, alleged that a large number of Haj pilgrims from the state had complained of shabby arrangements in Saudi Arabia during the annual pilgrimage.


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