Friday, September 25, 2015

How Hajj Stampede took 769 lives? What was the reason?

It was the day of Eid in Saudi Arabia which eventually proved to be the day of mourning. At least 769 passed away in the deadly incident and 865 are injured. It is the second worst Hajj incident ever and the deadliest incident of last 25 years. All of us know that the stampede happened when pilgrims were going to the Jamrat to perform the “Stoning of the Devil” also called Rami in local language. Soon after the incident, videos and pictures were all over the social media. These were really painful moments for any human being especially for Muslims. I pray for the ultimate peace of the souls of martyred and health for the injured people.

In the videos, you can see people lying on one another. Other pilgrims are checking if they are alive by dragging them from one place to another. You can hear the screams of hundreds and identify hundreds as dead in the videos. All this happened when temperature outside was 45C and pilgrims were having direct exposure to the Sun. When I talked to many other pilgrims who were in different areas of Mina, they confirmed the presence of hundreds of ambulances on the ground and tens of ambulance helicopters in the air.  I could not sleep for hours after watching these videos and pictures.

What was the reason of Makkah Stampede?
Everyone is talking about the Makkah Stampede which took 769 precious lives. But how did this stampede actually happen? There are some facts if you look at them closely, you can identify yourself how the Makkah stampede happened. The incident took place when pilgrims of two streets of Mina were going for “stoning of the devil”. Pilgrims of Street 204 and Street 223 were going towards Jamarat when they met each other on an intersection as you can see on the map. The streets look narrow in the map but actually they are very broad and can accommodate thousands of pilgrims. It is reported that Street 206 was blocked due to which pilgrims had no choice but to move to Street 223. Street 223 went over crowded which is the basic reason behind the incident.

If anyone of you has experience this crowd, you will agree with me that there are many moments when you walk without your will, because crowd is moving towards that direction. You cannot change direction of crowd, you cannot move to even right or left. You can imagine how the stampede happen when these two crowds met each other from sideways pushing each other. People were chanting Allah's name while others was crying, including children and infants. People fell on the ground seeking help but there was no-one to give them a helping hand. Everybody seemed to be on their own. People were just climbing on top of others in order to move to a safer place and that's how some people died. It is really painful to even imagine.

Before going to any conclusion, I want you to consider some other factors as well. One cannot justify this kind of life losses but one should not forget that this is a gathering of around 2.5 million people. There is a plan for hajj which is communicated to all the hajj agents who are responsible to communicate it to the pilgrims. Basic reason which we could identify is that these pilgrims were going for “stoning the devil” at the time when it was not recommended to do them. Authorities have already given a schedule and it was the duty of the hajj agents and pilgrims to comply by the hajj plan.

Latest Development: The street 206 will be made a direct road to the Jamarat (stoning of the devil) area to avoid any overcrowding of pilgrims. This new road will not have to cross any intersections and will directly access the Jamarat area. As a result of strict and strong measures taken by Saudi government, the hajj for the year 2016 went very smoothly and Hajis praised the efforts of Saudi government in this regard.

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