Hundreds of Lives Lost on Illegal Hajj Routes: A Grave Warning to Pilgrims


New Delhi: Hundreds of people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage due to the extreme heat in Mecca with temperatures soaring past 50 degrees Celsius. An alarming 83% of these victims were those who took illegal routes, highlighting the perilous risks involved with the pilgrimage.

The Saudi government disclosed that many of the victims had paid exorbitant sums to illegal tour operators, hoping to circumvent official channels. Instead of being transported comfortably in air-conditioned buses and housed in safe, regulated accommodations, these pilgrims found themselves exposed to the scorching desert heat, walking for miles amid extreme heat.

What Are Hajj Permits

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims with the means must complete at least once in their lives.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries on a quota system and distributed to individuals by lottery.

Why Do Pilgrims Take Illegal Routes?

Cost: Some experts say that travelling without a permit is a cheaper alternative to official permits, each of which can cost thousands of dollars.

Convenience: Others seek to avoid lengthy application processes and waiting lists.

Lack of awareness: Some pilgrims may be unaware of the risks and legal requirements.

What Are The Risks Associated With Illegal Hajj Visit

Physical harm: Pilgrims may face harsh desert conditions, dehydration, and exhaustion while traversing treacherous terrain.

Arrest and deportation: Those caught taking illegal routes may be detained, fined, and deported.

Health risks: Unverified vaccinations and medical screenings increase the risk of contracting and spreading diseases.

Exploitation: Pilgrims may fall prey to human traffickers, scams, and extortion.

What Is The Government Doing

On Saturday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered 16 tourism companies stripped of their licences and referred their managers to the public prosecutor over illegal pilgrimages to Mecca, Egypt’s cabinet said.

It said the rise in the number of deaths of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims stemmed from some companies which “organised the Hajj programmes using a personal visit visa, which prevents its holders from entering Mecca” via official channels.

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