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Pre-Haj facilities none to match Karnataka
By Aftab H Kola, Bangalore

Continuing the good work the Karnataka Haj Committee this year too has embarked on an ambitious operation to facilitate Haj pilgrims travelling from Karnataka. Thanks to the overhauling of the official machinery of the Karnataka State Haj Committee since 1996, this year’s HAj camp, now underway, also seems to be a big success.The State Haj Committee makes all arrangements for pilgrims from arranging visa to arranging accommodation in Saudi Arabia. 

This year 5200 pilgrims from Karnataka are being ferried to the Kingdom to perform Haj through the Haj Committee besides another 5000 going through private travel agencies. It may be recalled that the State Haj Committee had started a direct flight from Bangalore to Jeddah in 1996. This was made possible by Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, then Minister for Civil Aviation.

The Haj camp on the sprawling campus of Quddus Eidgah Masjid in Bangalore is abuzz with activities since January 27, on which date the first batch of Karnataka Hajis flew. The last of the 16 flights will take off on 11 February. Facilities like immigration, banking, visa and passport issuance, luggage check,etc have been provided at the Haj camp itself. The structures put up at the Haj camp depict part of the Haram and the Masjide-Nabawi. Accommodation and food to the pilgrims are also taken care of by the Haj Committee at the camp.

Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna wished the first batch of pilgrims that flew on 27 January. At a function held at the camp S M Krishna said that nobody can deprive the Hajis of Haj subsidy given by the Central Government scotching rumours that the Haj subsidy will be withdrawn from the next year. Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Koushalgi, Karnataka State Congress Committee chief, Mr Roshan Baig, Minister for Tourism and Haj affairs, Govt of Karnataka and Maulana Riazurrahman Rashadi were present on the occasion. Given the facilities and high class arrangements it will not be a surprise if Karnataka gets this year's award for providing excellent facilities for Haj pilgrims like last year.

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