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Haj tragedy strikes First Lancer household

Staff Reporter

Pilgrimage of mother-daughter duo ends up as last journey

HYDERABAD: The silence was deafening. Men and women sat silently outside the small tenement in the dingy lanes of First Lancer. One minute, they would vehemently deny that the news was true. The next, hoping against hope, they would pray that the news wasn't true.

As suspense reigned all day, the family chose to keep hopes alive even as the long desire of the mother-daughter duo to perform Haj turned out to be the very end of the road for them.

Haneefunissa Begum (35) had gone on Haj pilgrimage along with her husband Ibrahim and mother Zehra Bi. With the duo's names figuring in the list of dead at Mina stampede, friends and relatives began trooping in to their small dwelling in the First Lancer area of the city.

Sitting along the small stone bench in front of the house, none wanted to believe the news. "The Haj Committee has not confirmed it. We still have hope," says Ibrahim's brother Jehangir.

Ibrahim who owns a small electrical goods store in the city had left for Haj on December 18. In the stampede, he was separated from his wife and mother-in-law, and was admitted to hospital with injuries. Jehangir had managed to speak to him and says, "my brother is recovering. He said he would go and look for others and asked us not to panic."

Visibly nervous

The Haj Committee staff had been in touch with the family and promised to get some inputs at the earliest, claimed Jehangir. Other members of the family were visibly nervous but tried hard to hide their emotion. "It cannot be this way. How can they die in a stampede at Mina when it was their biggest dream to go there?" a relative asked.

Only, the worst fears came true by late evening with the Minister for Information Mohd. Ali Shabbir himself making the heartbreaking announcement.

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