: The last batch of 286 Haj pilgrims from the State left for Makkah on Wednesday by Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from

the Karipur airport. As many as 8,817 pilgrims have visited Saudi Arabia under the State Haj Committee this year. The Haj camp functioning at the State Haj House at Karipur since September 24 closed on Wednesday with the departure of the last batch of pilgrims. Saudi Arabian Airlines operated 29 flight services to carry 8,817 pilgrims in 15 days. Union Minister of State for External Affairs E.

Ahamed had flagged off the Haj services from the State on September 25. As many as 8,440 pilgrims were from Kerala, while the others were from Lakshadweep and Mahe. Of thm, 4,600 were women. There were five children in the Kerala pilgrim contingent. Haj Committee chairman Kottumala T.M. Bapu Musliar said that 21 more pilgrims could be sent from Kerala this year despite the slash in the Haj quota by the Saudi Arabian government.

He said 4,006 pilgrims from the State were in the green category and were accommodated near the Haram Mosque, and the emaining pilgrims were in the Azeezia category. Three of the pilgrims from Kerala had died in Makkah. They were Mammu, 86, from Mananthavadi; Moideen Koya, 76, from Nallalam, Kozhikode, and Abdul Khader, 50, from Kanhangad.

The pilgrims will return to the country, beginning October 31. Saudi Arabian Airlines will operate 29 services to bring back pilgrims from Kerala before November 15.

Haj Committee officials said the holy Zamzam water would be provided to pilgrims on their return at Karipur airport. The pilgrims will not have to carry Zamzam along with them. The holy water will be kept at the airport ready for distribution on their

return. Mr. Bapu Musliar said the Haj camp was conducted without any complaints. As many as 166 volunteers, including women, had helped the pilgrims at the camp.