Haj stampede: Maharashtra victim's kin desperately seek visa to bring home body

Saleem Shaikh is the only person from Maharashtra to die in the Haj stampede; his wife, who was also on the pilgrimage, is safe

The only person from Maharashtra, out of the 14 Indians who died in the Haj stampede is 57-year-old Saleem Yusuf Shaikh, from Panvel.

Also read: 14 Indians dead in Haj stampede

The stampede happened during the Jamarat ritual. Pilgrims pelt the walls with pebbles in a symbolic stoning of the devil. Pic/AFP
The stampede happened during the Jamarat ritual. Pilgrims pelt the walls with pebbles in a symbolic stoning of the devil. Pic/AFP

Shaikh’s death was confirmed by the Haj Committee late on Thursday night, while his wife, who was also there has been reported safe. Their sons are desperately trying to get a visa to go and bring her back.

Shaikh and his wife (51), had left for the pilgrimage on September 6 by a flight from Mumbai. They had gone there through a private tour operator Welcome Tours from Surat. The entire pilgrimage went smoothly and it was only in the last leg that Shaikh was caught in the stampede and died.

His body has been identified by the Indian Embassy but is yet to be handed over to his relatives. “Both my parents had gone for Haj but their time of being in Jamarat for the ritual was different. That is how my mother was saved. We haven’t disclosed to her that my father is dead.

She doesn’t have anyone else there when we break the news to her. My relatives will be going there tomorrow and then she will be told about it. She will have to identify the body before the handover,” said Dr Javed Shaikh, the deceased’s son.

Javed had been frantically trying to contact his parents all through Thursday after hearing of the stampede. He was told about his father’s death late Thursday night and could contact his mother only on Friday morning. “God will take care of us. He is the giver and the taker,” Javed said.

Javed urgently needs a visa to go to Saudi Arabia and bring back his mother, but with the three-day public holiday, all offices are closed. Even his brother in Dubai is trying for a visa. “All I expect from the government is a visa,” he said.

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