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6 Gujarat Pilgrims Among Dead In Mecca Heatwave

| Updated: June 23, 2024 15:56

Six pilgrims from Gujarat have reportedly died between June 12 and 17 in Mecca while performing Haj, according to the Gujarat Haj Committee, which has made a representation before the Centre and the Indian Consul General in Saudi Arabia regarding inconveniences like overcrowded rooms and lack of water facilities faced by the pilgrims.

The deceased have been identified as Ikbal Ahmed Makrani from Chhota Udepur, Shabbair Hussain and Mohammed Ikbal Sachora from Ahmedabad, Mustak Ahmed from Vadodara, Nurubhai Shaikh from Banaskantha and Kasamali Siddiki from Valsad. Gujarat Haj Committee Chairman Ikbal Saiyed attributed the six deaths to the extreme heatwave prevailing in Mecca.

Ikbal Ahmed Makrani (75), a retired government teacher, left for Mumbai with his wife Sugrabibi (67) on May 28. From Mumbai, they flew to Jeddah on May 31. Ikbal’s son Moin (36), who had gone with his two sisters and a brother to drop his parents at Mumbai, said they last spoke with the couple on June 12, the day Ikbal died.

The Makranis had got visa to perform Haj in 2019, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the pilgrimage was cancelled.

Moin said, “We used to regularly speak to our parents through video calls in the morning, afternoon and night. They called us to show us the rituals while they performed the same. This is the first time that my father had gone for the holy pilgrimage. Nobody from our family had till date performed Haj.”

Ikbal was to return home with Sugrabibi on July 12. However, he was buried in the Sharayah Kabristan in Mecca on June 13, said Moin. “We spoke to my mother on June 12 at 5.20 pm (India Standard Time). My father was seated next to her, they just had returned to their tents after performing the rituals. My father was ill and could not speak, he was coughing.

My mother said that doctors had been intimated and they would take him to a hospital.“At 6 pm the same day, Mufti Asif, a resident of Chhota Udepur, who went for Haj with my parents, called me to inform about my father’s death,” Moin added.

Moin, who runs a shop of electrical parts, will fly to Mecca on Sunday from Mumbai to bring his mother home. “My father was physically fit, had no illness… He would walk a lot here in India. While performing rituals in the scorching heat, he might have suffered from heat stroke. My mother’s legs are swollen, as she also had walked a lot over there.”

Sources said this year, over 14,500 pilgrims from Gujarat had gone to Mecca and Medina through the Haj Committee.

Following complaints it received from pilgrims, the committee met in Ahmedabad to discuss the future course of action. In the meeting held at the Haj House, chaired by committee chairman Ikbal Saiyed, it was decided that the committee will write to the Union government and the Consul General of India at Jeddah, about the inconvenience faced by pilgrims from Gujarat.

Saiyed said, “Field trainers and assistant field trainers of Gujarat Haj Committee had trained pilgrims in different districts regarding what precautions they should take during the pilgrimage, what they should do while performing Haj amid a heatwave in Mecca. Unfortunately, six deaths have been reported this year due to the extreme heatwave. Also, pilgrims from Gujarat were inconvenienced by lack of transportation and water facilities, overcrowded rooms as well as lack of air coolers, among others.”

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