Saudis seek Indian help in smooth Haj operation | world | Hindustan Times
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Saudis seek Indian help in smooth Haj operation

world Updated: May 25, 2007 10:49 IST

In steps to ensure smooth movement of pilgrims during the Haj pilgrimage, the Saudi Arabian authorities have sought cooperation of all countries, including India, to persuade their nationals to stay in Mina for the sixth day as well.

The crowded departure during streaming out of the tent city of Mina has led to stampedes in the past killing many pilgrims.

Speaking at a press conference in Jeddah on Thursday, India's Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said, "Haj Minister Dr Fouad Al-Farsy has sought our cooperation in urging some of our pilgrims to stay in Mina for the sixth day (13th Dul Hijjah) to help authorities regulate the flow of traffic on the fifth day of the Haj."

The pilgrimage takes place over five days with an optional sixth day. "Some pilgrims opt to stay an extra day, but most of them exhausted after completing five days of rigorous rituals are eager to leave on the fifth day. Authorities say that this crowded exit of pilgrims from Mina poses a safety risk," Arab news said in a report.

Ahamed was in the Kingdom to sign an agreement with the Haj Ministry for arranging the visit of 1,57,000 Indian pilgrims for Haj this year.

The management of Indian nationals traveling for Haj is the biggest operation handled by the Ministry of External Affairs, outside the Indian borders, said Ahamed. It involves coordination between various agencies in India and abroad. "We have been rated as one of the best by the Saudi authorities," he added.