Mumbai: The Haj Committee of India organized a flagging-off ceremony for the pilgrims, on Saturday, as the first Haj flight from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport will depart tomorrow.

A record 200,000 Indian Muslims are expected to perform the Haj pilgrimage this year, including 160,000 through the Haj Committee of India and the rest through Haj Group Organisers (HGOs).

Earlier, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said that the HGOs would take 10,000 pilgrims at the rates finalized by the Haj Committee.

Naqvi said that the number of women Haj pilgrims going without ‘Mehram’ (male escort) will be 2,340, i.e. almost double of last year’s 1,180.

“This year too, the ministry has made arrangement to send these women for Haj without the lottery system. Of the 200,000 total pilgrims, women would be around 48 per cent,” said Naqvi.

The main date for Haj pilgrimage this year is August 9, in the Dhul Hijjah month, 1440, as per the Islamic calendar, and it will continue for five days.

(With Inputs from Agencies)