391 aircrafts will carry record 168,000 Indian Haj Pilgrims this year

JEDDAH – Haj arrangements for Indian pilgrims this year are marked by a number of new services and facilities and an increase in the number of pilgrims, according to Consulate General of India, Sayeed Ahmed Baba.
“With the help of the moassassas (tawafah establishments) we have been able to accommodate all our pilgrims coming through the Haj Committee of India within the traditional boundaries of Mina,” Baba told a press conference at the consulate general of India here on Sunday.
A record number of 168,000 pilgrims would perform Haj this year, he said adding that special measures have been taken to avoid overcrowding and to make the Haj smooth, safe and sound for the pilgrims.
Last year, the total number of pilgrims from India was 1,57,000.
Baba said some of the new services and facilities include 30 percent outsourcing of buildings maintenance to the moassassas to see which organization can serve the pilgrims better. Till last year, the building owners were responsible for maintenance.
He said he was happy to note that Aziziyah, which was opened for pilgrim accommodation in 2006 and was not popular, has been voluntarily preferred by 25,000 pilgrims this year. “It is their choice,” he said and added that still a majority prefer to stay within a kilometer of the Haram in Makkah, even though it costs more. A total of 51,171 Indian pilgrims will stay in the vicinity of Haram, followed by 31,422 in Aziziyah. He said that Hai Al-Hijra is a new area where 12,876 pilgrims will stay. As for other areas, 9,522 will have accommodation in Dawar Kudai, 9, 426 in Shisha and 460 in Nuzha.
About 500 buildings have been hired to accommodate all the pilgrims coming through the Haj Committee,” Baba said.
Transport arrangements have been made for 54,500 pilgrims to help them go to Haram and return every day. Buses of Saptco, Hafil, Al Jazira would be used. A large number of volunteers and seasonal staff of consulate would man different bus stops.
The first flight of Haj pilgrims would reach from Hyderabad on Oct. 30 carrying 300 pilgrims by Saudi Arabian Airlines at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, Madina. The first flight at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport will also land on the same day carrying 200 passengers from Srinagar by Air-India.
A total number of 391 aircraft would be pressed into service. Saudia would carry 60,000 pilgrims whereas 63,211 would be carried by Air-India.
On an average 12 aircraft daily would be carrying about 3,600 pilgrims per day till Dec. 2 from 17 different embarkation points in India – Ahmedabad, Aurrangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkatta, Kozikodi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Srinagar, and Varanasi.
To assist the consulate in Haj arrangements, the Government of India is deputing five senior officers as coordinators, 135 doctors, 146 paramedics, 51 assistant Haj officers and 171 Haj assistants.

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Stranded Indian Medical students in China are being flown home by Air India

Dozens of Indian medical students who have been stranded in China after buying fake air tickets are being flown home, officials from Air India say.

The airline flew 12 of the students back to India on Monday.

Many students returning to India on holiday were left stranded in Beijing and other parts of China after they learnt their tickets were bogus.

Indian papers reported on Monday that the students were allegedly duped by a Bangladeshi travel agent.

The papers said that one of the students had filed a complaint with the Beijing police.

According to a press release by Air India the airline would bring all the students back to India in the next two to three days.

“We have been approached by at least 30 students so far who are being brought back to India on regular flights from Beijing,” said Prasad Rao, spokesman from Air India.

On Sunday Emirates Airways and Malaysian Airlines were reported not to have accepted the students’ e-tickets on the grounds that they were fake. They were prevented from boarding their flights.

Air India says more than 15 students are flying back on Tuesday and a batch of 20 will be put on a flight to India on Wednesday.

Mr Rao said they were giving priority to the stranded students but he said they were helping only those who were coming forward for help.

He clarified that the travel was not free and students were paying $631 (27,000 rupees) each, which is 15% less than the fares charged by other airlines.

Hundreds of Indian students travel to China and Russia to study medicine rather than sit stringent entrance tests in India.

Most of the students were studying in specialized ultrasound school. Being highly demanding carrier, ultrasound school are very much in demand all over the world.

Bangladeshi Travel Agent duped 154 Indian Medical Students in China

Chinese police have sealed the house of an absconding Bangladeshi agent, accused of duping 154 Indian medical students by selling them fake tickets for flights to India.

Indian embassy officials had requested the police to investigate the case after the students studying in Chongqing, Nanjing and Suzhou medical universities who had booked E-tickets through the agent Mohammed Jabbar Miyan for Emirates and Malaysian airlines were turned back at the airport.

The students, several of whom knew Miyan, were to return home to India for summer vacation to Hyderabad from Shanghai, Chongqing and Suzhou.

They had booked the tickets attracted by cheap fares and transferred the money to the account of Miyan, who is now absconding, sources said. The Bangladesh embassy said there was no record in the Bangladeshi community list to confirm the existence of Miyan.

Sources at the Indian embassy said they have written to the police to investigate the case.

Miyan’s residence had been sealed. The police had also been requested to take measures for freezing the bank accounts of Miyan, they said.

The Emirates and Malaysian airlines had also been contacted seeking information, they said.

A group of students who had booked tickets through the same agent had left but the problem surfaced on July 11 when another batch of 34 was refused boarding pass in shanghai in eastern China by the Emirates airlines whose staff told them that they need to produce credit cards.

The agent had booked the tickets with his card but the money had not reached the emirates airlines. Officials at the Indian embassy and the consulate in shanghai were in touch with the Emirates and Malaysian airlines on the issue.

Air India had been requested to accommodate the students on a priority basis to facilitate the travel of students for vacation after the final exams, they said.

According to sources, out of 154 students, 20 had reached India and nine others managed to get the refund, while the rest are struggling to make the trip and get their money back.

Over 7,000 Indian medical students are studying in Chinese universities.