A shiver ran down his spine as Shameem saw stretchers piled high with dead bodies being taken out from Mina, the neighbourhood of Mecca, which witnessed a massive stampede on Thursday, claiming lives of over 700 haj pilgrims.
Yet to recuperate from shock, Shameem, a native of the state capital, said he would never forget this haj, where he had a close brush with death not once but twice. On September 11, during the Mecca crane crash, he was just a few metres away from the point where disaster struck.
“It’s my first haj and it would be remembered always. I am also thankful to Allah for keeping me and my family safe,” said Mohammed Shameem. Talking to HT over phone, he said the incident took place around 11am when the pilgrims gathered at Mina, around 5km from Mecca to offer last haj ritual—‘stoning the evil’. “Stampede ensued when the first batch of the pilgrims gathered to perform the ritual. Fortunately, my family and I were in the second batch,” he said.
Narrating the sequence of events, Shameem said the second batch members were waiting for their turn when they heard a massive hue and cry. “We were really unaware what the matter was. After having a word with the pilgrims of the first batch, we came to know it was a stampede,” said Reshma, Shameem’s sister.
A few pilgrims told us that they had to step on the corpses to get out of Mina, she added while informing that the family was associated with Maktab 39, one of the hubs of pilgrims from UP and other states of India. “No casualty was reported at our maktab,” she claimed.
Between the crane crash and stampede, the family also witnessed a painful moment when an elderly member of the clan—Hamatul Nisha, passed away due to dearth of medical assistance. “I lost her on Wednesday, she could not complete her Haj. I ran from pillar to post but couldn’t get medical assistance for my ailing grandmother, who was an asthma patient. After four hours of struggle, she passed away,” said Ayesha Begum, granddaughter of the deceased.