Anxious wait for pilgrims’ kin

1.5 lakh Indians are in Mecca; three among them killed.

Updated - March 28, 2016 08:00 pm IST

Published - September 25, 2015 12:12 am IST - New Delhi:

Small groups of concerned relatives gathered outside V.K. Krishna Menon Bhavan on Bhagwan Das Road here on Thursday as news of the stampede at Mina, near Mecca, trickled in. Three Indians were among at least 717 people killed and over 860 others injured in the tragedy.

Members of the Haj Committee of India told The Hindu that India had sent more than 1.5 lakh pilgrims for Haj this time.

Explaining the difficulties involved in the rescue operation under way, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member M.J. Akbar said: “Government of India has reached out immediately to the people in need on the ground in Mecca and necessary measures are being taken to help remedy the situation. The stampede is an unfortunate development that has taken place despite the best preparations by the Saudi authorities.”

But some expressed concern that information about the condition of the pilgrims was not reaching swiftly. Munis Ahmed Ansari of the Haj Committee of India said it had not been told about the ground situation in Mecca despite the rising demand from the pilgrims’ families.

He said compared with other countries, India traditionally reserved a large number of seats for elderly citizens, which added to the worry of the organisers. “This year too, almost 80,000 of the 1.5-lakh pilgrims are above 70. So naturally a lot of people back home are worried about the condition of the pilgrims from India,” he said.

Emergency numbers

The External Affairs Ministry has provided emergency numbers in Mecca for the family members: ph: 00966125458000 and 00966125496000

A toll-free number for pilgrims is ph: 8002477786.

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