PESHAWAR: Several Hajj pilgrims belonging to Khyber-Paktunkhwa are still missing after the tragic stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabai. The family of one such missing pilgrim, Saleh Muhammad, a resident of Hazar Khwani, has once again demanded that the government find his whereabouts.
Muhammad, a 61-year-old retired Pakistan Railways policeman, decided to perform Hajj with his wife Yasmin Bibi after collecting his pension. However, during the stampede, Muhammad was separated from his wife and had not been seen since.
“I could see him during the sudden stampede where people started running around to protect themselves and within a minute, I lost sight of him,” said Yasmin Bibi. She said she went back in search of him but to no avail. “I looked for him desperately – among the injured and dead – but he was nowhere to be seen.”
Yasmin added her husband had performed many rituals of the religious duty and even taken a photograph of himself to create memories of the religious journey. “I am glad that Hajj is done but the whole house, in fact, the entire village has been in mourning since Eidul Azha,” Yasmin said. “Everyone is praying desperately for his safe return.”
Yasmin said she had done everything in her power to look for her husband but had failed. “It has been 20 days and while I returned safely, there is no trace of my husband.”
Read: 45 Pakistani pilgrims still missing as death toll hits 89
Families of all the missing and injured victims accused the Saudi government of mismanagement. They said the Saudi government failed to take adequate security measures to ensure the safety of such a large number of pilgrims.
Taimur Khan, nephew of Saleh Muhammad, asked the Pakistani government to question the Saudi government and to bring the missing pilgrims back home. “Our government is extremely inefficient and has not even lodged a complaint with the Saudi government yet,” he said.
“The Saudis failed in many regards – my aunt is old and faced immense problems while performing Hajj and now so many pilgrims are dead, injured or missing,” added Taimur.
“The Saudi embassy said Muhammad is not among the 23 pilgrims who are in an intensive care unit at a Saudi hospital and that we must wait with the other 44 Pakistani pilgrims’ families who are hoping their loved ones will be located soon,” Taimur said.
He added their relatives in Saudi Arabia were still searching for Muhammad but the Saudi government was not even kind enough to cooperate with them. “There are hundreds of people who are lying dead in containers and the Saudi government should let people search for their loved ones,” said Taimur.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.