Hajj, a yearly pilgrimage carried out by Muslims around the world who are physically and financially stable. Every year a million of people perform hajj and this no doubt is one of the greatest challenge that the Government of Saudi Arabia faces. This year, an approximate of 2 million people performed hajj which is too much considering that there is construction going on at the holy mosque of Mecca which is restricting the use of the space available. No sooner the crane incident has disappeared from the void thoughts of our mind than the massive stampede has taken place.
Here is the death toll by nationalities,
Algeria: 4 dead
Benin: deaths confirmed but number unspecified
Burundi: 1 dead
Cameroon: at least 20 dead
Chad: 11 dead
Egypt: 14 dead
India: 18 dead
Indonesia: 3 dead
Iran: 131 dead
Kenya: 3 dead
Morocco: 87 dead, according to Moroccan media
Netherlands: 1 dead
Niger: at least 19 dead
Nigeria: 3 dead
Pakistan: 11 dead
Senegal: 5 dead
Somalia: 8 dead, according to media reports
Tanzania: 4 dead
The stampede occurred on Thursday morning while performing the ritual of “stoning the devil”. Two massive waves of people occurred which led to the stampede. Saudi Government has already spent billions on the safety of Hajj pilgrims and has invested millions in its infrastructure. From metro to cars to buses, there is every facility you need in a holy spot. So, why this confusion and accidents?
Let’s take a look into the possible reasons for the occurrence of the stampede. Is it really the government’s fault or the peoples’ fault? Let’s take a shallow look in it.
Since it is the first time for most of them (almost 90%), they are not aware about the country and its whereabouts. It’s of no surprise how a person can lose his presence of mind and get deflected in between a crowd of almost 2 million.
As seen in the CCTV footage, we can see a lot of pandemonium among the crowd. It was like a two way traffic. Pilgrims were on the way to perform the ritual and few pilgrims were coming back after performing the ritual. This led to two huge opposite waves leading to confusion and ultimately to a massive historical stampede.
Though it’s not an authentic and official fact, this is my view that a slight tinge of impatience among the crowd was also responsible for this calamity.
The kingdom has already spent around 2 billion on the bridge connecting Mecca and Medina for the pilgrims. Over 5000 CCTV cameras were installed and around 100000 security personals were present at the site.
Let’s take a look on what the Grand Mufti had to say about the stampede.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh was visited by the crown prince, who is also deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, on Friday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
“You are not responsible for what happened,” the grand Mufti said.
“As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable.”
At the outset, the only thing we can hope and pray that these kind of calamities should not occur in the near future. It’s time for us to learn from this and move on. Is the Prince and his government really not responsible? I leave this question upon you to answer.