As the death toll in the Hajj stampede rose to 717 with over 850 injured, the Hajj Committee of Maharashtra Thursday afternoon issued an appeal to all Indian pilgrims to ensure that no senior citizen is made to personally attempt the important ritual of throwing stone at pillar on the grounds of Mina. According to the advisory issued, the committee has requested healthy family members to volunteer for the ritual on behalf of the elderly.
According to Zubair Shaikh, member of the Hajj Committee of Maharashtra, 9,400 people from Maharashtra have gone for Hajj this year. He said that the incident occurred in Mina under high temperatures during an important ritual of pelting stones at pillar symbolizing the Satan (devil). The ritual is carried on the last day of Hajj.
“After offering the morning Fajr prayers, pilgrims had gone to perform the ritual of throwing stones. In the rush, several fainted as the temperatures soared to 50 degree Celsius and others were injured as stones missed their mark and instead hit them. It created confusion,” Ibrahim told the Indian Express. Shaikh, who is heading a group of Indian pilgrims in Mecca said that several pilgrims have been fainting due to the heat.
The Hajj Committee has now requested elderly from refraining from personally visiting the grounds of Mina in an attempt to avoid further casualties. “We have asked them to send someone on their behalf for the ritual,” Ibrahim said.
On Wednesday, pilgrims had visited the Mount Arafat, where Prophet Mohammad is said to have given his last sermon, following which a visit to Muzdalifah was made to collect the pebbles for throwing at the pillar in Mina.