India would appreciate getting information about missing pilgrims- Mehbooba

Jeddah, KSA

Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, leader of India’s Haj Goodwill delegation, appealed to the Saudi authorities to share with the Haj missions of the respective countries the latest information about the missing pilgrims so as to relieve the anguish of their worried kin back home.

“Several bodies are yet to be identified one week after the tragedy. We would appreciate if the government of Saudi Arabia would release information about the missing Hajis so that we can pass this to their relatives,” she said in a press conference held at the Indian Consulate General here on Wednesday.

Mehbooba said the proposed visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia would further enhance bilateral relations to great heights. She also hailed the Saudi authorities for the best ever services and facilities made available for the Guests of God. She wanted peace to prevail in the Kashmir Valley, wherefrom she comes, as well as in all parts of the world.

Mehbooba mourned the death of the pilgrims in the two tragedies of Haram crane crash and the Mina stampede that occurred during the current Haj season. “On behalf of prime minister and people of India, I convey condolences on the death of pilgrims in these very sad and unfortunate incidents to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the government and people of Saudi Arabia as well as to the bereaved family members of the dead.

I pray Allah Almighty to include those dead among martyrs and give their family members strength and patience to overcome this mishap,” she said while praying for the speedy recovery for those injured in the tragedy. A total of 50 Indians died and more than 80 missing in the Mina stampede, she said. The missing included 65 pilgrims who came from India and 17 domestic pilgrims.

Mehbooba, who performed Haj for the first time in 1995 as a member of goodwill delegation, described the stampede as a huge tragedy that happened after a long time. “The Saudi authorities have done much more than what was expected to handle the incident. The manpower and preparedness on the ground would not be sufficient to meet such a massive tragedy,” she said while thanking the Saudi authorities for the best ever treatment being provided to the injured pilgrims. “We appreciate and applaud the authorities for such kind of very good treatment and care being provided to the injured at their well-equipped hospitals.”

Mehbooba urged the government to communicate to Haj missions on what is the latest position with regard to the tragedy such as the number of identified bodies and the fate of missing Hajis. Regarding the tragedies of crane crash and stampede, she continued: We have seen quick response of the authorities in the case of the first tragedy. In regards to the second very unfortunate incident, we all are very much concerned about missing of many pilgrims from India and other countries.

The Haj missions have to answer numerous queries in regards to the whereabouts of the missing people from their countries. We understand the difficulties of the Saudi government in handling such an uphill task. However, we appeal for setting up of some kind of mechanism to pass information and ease tension and worries of family members of those still missing.

Anwar Mohammed Khan, deputy leader of the delegation, Consul General B.S. Mubarak, and Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Muhammad Noor Rahman Sheikh also attended the press conference.