33 Indians die during Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

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Riyadh: Thirty-three Indians have died of illness or old-age ailments during the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year, a media report said Saturday.

The majority of them have been buried in Makkah, Arab News quoted Indian officials as saying. The first batch of Indian pilgrims arrived in Saudi Arabia Aug 27.

On Wednesday, an Indian pilgrim hailing from Maharashtra died aboard an Air India flight to Saudi Arabia.

Ghulam Shabbir Hussain, 84, fell sick and died during the flight.

This year, about 360 flights have been operated to transport 136,020 pilgrims — 100,020 of them facilitated by the Indian Central Haj Committee — from 21 embarkation points to Saudi Arabian cities.

Recently, the authorities in Saudi Arabia raised concerns about the increase in the number of acutely chronically ill foreign pilgrims who have arrived in the Gulf nation endangering the health of fellow pilgrims and taxing the health facilities in the holy cities.

According to a health ministry official, many Muslims in different parts of the world strongly believe that death during Haj or in the holy cities will help them attain a place in paradise.

“The misconception that dying in the holy cities or during the Haj will swiftly help them attain heaven is one of the leading reasons for the increase in the number of old and chronically ill patients during the annual pilgrimage,” the official said.

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