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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Haj stampede: ‘Dead’ man’s kin say he is missing

Many families set to travel to Saudi Arabia to search for missing relatives

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Updated: December 26, 2015 12:00:58 am
Vadodara based couple Hanif Shaikh and Ayeshbibi Shaikh, missing since the stampede broke Vadodara based couple Hanif Shaikh and Ayeshbibi Shaikh, missing since the stampede broke

Even as the official figure of Indian pilgrims who died in the Haj stampede rose to 45 on Monday, the family of Maharashtra resident Shaikh Nisar Ahmed Abdul Rahman, whose name figures on the updated list of the dead, has claimed that he is “missing” and that a search for him is on in Mina.

The Indian Consulate in Jeddah released Monday a list of nine more Indians who are reported to have died in the stampede in Mina on the last day of the pilgrimage, taking the toll to 787. Among the nine, there are three from West Bengal, two each from Kerala and Jharkhand, and one each from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Rahman’s family, however, claimed that they had listed him with the local authorities as a “missing person” but his name accidentally figured on the list released by the Indian Consulate.

“We have given his photograph in every local hospital. We have been visiting mortuaries for the last two days to identify him. But so far there has been no confirmation,” Mohammad Hussain Hawai, in charge of Rahman’s group, told The Indian Express over phone from Mina. He added that the entire family was checking lists of the dead from every country to ensure Rahman’s name was not in any one of them.

Rahman, a resident of Mahim in Mumbai, left for his first ever Haj pilgrimage earlier this month along with his wife, mother-in-law and brother-in-law. On September 24, he was performing the ritual of throwing stones at three pillars in Mina when there was a stampede and the family lost contact with him.

“Our operators have left for Saudi Arabia to assist in the search operations. So far, neither his dead body nor his hospital admission news has been confirmed,” said an official from Rumani Enterprises, a private tour company in Andheri that is handling the family’s trip to Mecca.

Meanwhile, five days after the stampede, Indian families continue to look for missing relatives with several now travelling to Saudi Arabia to personally participate in the search. Asif Shaikh, along with cousin Sarfaraz Shaikh, is in the process of applying for visa to visit Mina to look for his parents Mohmed Hanif Shaikh (61) and Aiyeshbibi Shaikh (57). The family last spoke to the couple on September 23 night, a day before the stampede. “We have tried contacting mortuaries over phone. Every day, we dial his (Mohmed’s) number. Earlier it was ringing, now it is switched off,” said a worried Nafisa Dadabhai, Mohmed’s sister. Mohmed, a general manager at Indian Oil in Vadodara, left with his wife on September 15 with a Tawakkal Tours group.

With no news from the Indian Consulate or local hospitals, the family has now decided to travel to Mina. “We are carrying several photographs of them,” Dadabhai added, hoping that it would speed up the search. In Odisha’s Karimganj, Sahir Ahmed is mobilising relatives in Saudi Arabia to look for his brother Abdul Aslam (64) and his wife Khatija Aslam.

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