Intro: This is not for the first time that pilgrims were killed in stampede during the ritual of stoning and chasing of Satan. It happened even in 2004 and in 2006. In 1990, more than 1,400 pilgrims were killed in stampede. Saudi Arabia must explain why such tragedies are repeatedly happening in Mecca?
Saudi Arabia is a rich country with huge income from oil export estimated at current value which runs into more than 280 million US dollars. It is not only surprising but unfortunate that a country with all resources at its command has failed to manage the crowd that converge every year for Haj. On September 24, 2015, an estimated 850 people died of stampede in Mecca. All were pilgrims who had gone to seek solace and blessings of Alah, the Almighty of the followers of Islam. There was another accident in Mecca few days earlier, on September 11 to be precise in which dozens of people were killed when a crane broke and collapsed. Many labourers were killed.
The world is unhappy and angry that the Saudi administration miserably failed doing a routine administrative job leading to loss of life. Muslims from all over world had reached Mecca for Haj including from Bharat and Pakistan. The question being asked is why there is such a casual arrangement for handling and managing the huge crowd of pilgrims in Mecca? Is there nobody to oversee the arrangement? Is there no accountability for criminal neglect there? The Saudi administration tried to wash its sin by paying huge amount as compensation to those who were killed in the crane accident. Before the anger subsided, the Mecca tragedy took place exposing the chinks in the arms of Saudi administration.
In Meena, near the Mecca Mosque of Saudi Arabia, there is a ritual in which people stone Satan. It was during this ritual that the stampede took place, and people ran over one another killing 850 pilgrims and injuring many more. This is not for the first time that people were killed in stampede during the ritual of stoning and chasing of Satan. It happened even in 2004 and in 2006. In 1990, more than 1,400 pilgrims were killed in stampede.
To be fair, there had been incidents like this when people were killed in stampede at music concert and in football matches. In Bharat too many people were killed of stampede at religious congregations. The question is, in this modern world where all gadgets, technologies and expertise are available is there no way to stop recurring incident of stampede at any crowed gathering? One reason for stampede is not enough opening space for exit. But the nature of both the tragedies in Mecca is different.
There is general view that the administration of Mecca was nincompoop. How and why the administration allowed people to go to the site where work was going on with huge cranes. Iranian officials, however, accused Saudi officials of mismanaging the event. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanese al-Manar TV that Saudi Arabia should let the management of the pilgrimage be a joint Muslim issue or allow a Muslim committee to supervise its management.
It is high time that the rulers of Saudi Arabia invite experts from the US and Europe to lay out fool proof plan to manage and control the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who reach Mecca for Haj.
RK Sinha (The writer is Member of Rajya Sabha)