LAHORE - “Had the Saudi authorities provided timely aid to the injured of the Minaa stampede, many lives could have been saved,” said a relative of one of the victims of Haj tragedy.

Dr Haji Shahid Dial and his wife, both eye-witnesses to the incident, said the Saudi Rescue workers, following the stampede, collected dead bodies so carelessly that they even threw injured Hajis on piles of bodies declaring them as dead.

Muhammad Omar, son of martyred Haji Arif Sheikh who is a resident of Township Lahore, said his father was alive for more than 20 minutes after the stampede. “Nobody provided him first aid. He kept reciting Darood Shareef and ultimately passed away.

“My mother remained with my father asking for medical attention but no body was there to help.”

He said his parents were in Minaa during the procession when a good number of Hajis rushed backwards prompting a stampede. Omar says his father fell down while others ran over him.

His mother narrowly escaped the incident. She, however, stayed near her husband for two hours and later on fell unconscious. Omar believes ambulances reached the scene after three hours.

To a question on receiving back his father’s body, Omar said it was the will of his father to be buried in the Holy land of Saudi Arabia. To another question about compensation from Saudi government he said that they do not have any special demand.

Some of the Hajis were of the view that the stampede occurred when Iranian Hajis protested and the Saudi Haj management closed one side of the corridor forcing hajis to jump over barriers which led to the stampede.

Haji Shahid said that there very were poor sanitary arrangements in Minaa. “Keeping the ‘Ehraam’ clean while using the bathroom was impossible,” he said.

The water and air coolers were not functioning properly, Shahid said while the Saudi authorities blamed recent sandstorm for jammed installations.

Mrs Zahida Sarfarz former MPA from Sargohda said the weather in Minaa was very warm and the Saudi government did not make any arrangements in this regard. She said that the volunteers who were performing duties in Minaa served the Hajis well.

Haji Azib Ali said that Saudi authorities transported them 15 hours before the flight time. “I witnessed number of Hajis weeping out side Minaa Hospital for hours to see their loved ones but they were not allowed. Zorez Ali Shah said that PIA served third class meal during the flight and no body bothered to facilitate hajis during briefing process. Haji Nadeem Butt and Muhammad Adeel Muneer from Lahore were totally unsatisfied with the arrangements made by Saudi government and PIA.