Video: Nine Kashmir Hajj Pilgrims Die In Saudi Heatwave


by: Jahangir Sofi 

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SRINAGAR: As Hajj 2024 concluded, the holy journey was marked by tragedy as nine pilgrims from Kashmir, including a couple from Srinagar, succumbed to heat stroke in Arafat and Muzdalifa, Saudi Arabia, officials said on Thursday.

A top officer from the Jammu and Kashmir Hajj Committee, speaking to Kashmir Life, highlighted the severe impact of intense heat on the health of several pilgrims, resulting in the deaths of nine Kashmiri pilgrims.

“The soaring temperatures have been extreme, and tragically, nine pilgrims from Kashmir, including a couple from Srinagar, have died due to heat stroke. The deaths occurred in the holy sites of Arafat and Muzdalifa. Among the deceased, eight were women and one was a man,” the official stated.

The deceased couple, Manzoor Ahmad Rangrez, a retired bank officer aged 62, and his wife Rifat, aged 57, a current bank officer at the Nowgam branch, were residents of Rawalpora. Their deaths have sent shockwaves through their neighbourhood and the larger Kashmiri community. The couple is survived by their two sons.

Reports suggest that the host managers of the Hajj and the Saudi government have been unresponsive to the dire conditions faced by tens of thousands of pilgrims. Issues related to transportation and healthcare further complicated the crisis. Pilgrims reported via phone and videos on social media depicted scenes of neglect and near failure in managing the situation.

The official noted that during the pilgrimage, temperatures reached a blistering 48°C. Despite the severe heat, pilgrims continued to perform their religious duties with determination.

The Saudi authorities moved the deceased to hospitals on the evenings of the 9th and 10th for biometric identification and subsequent publication of their names. The deceased were accompanied by their relatives and will be buried in Makkah.

The heatwave has severely affected the Hajj pilgrims, with international media reporting not less than 550 deaths so far, including nine from Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2024, more than 1.83 million Muslims performed the Hajj, including over 1.6 million from 22 countries, and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents, according to Saudi Hajj authorities.

A well-educated Kashmiri pilgrim in Madina told Kashmir Life that most of the deaths were due to the compromised Saudi healthcare setup.

Notably, this year, over 7,000 pilgrims from the region participated in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina. Approximately 6,800 pilgrims departed from the Srinagar embarkation point, while over 500 travelled from other airports.

Officials have also announced the return of Jammu and Kashmir pilgrims, with the first batch of 322 pilgrims landing at Srinagar International Airport on June 22.


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