FREEPRESS – The Saudi Arabian government has said that any pilgrim who violates the schedule put in place for the stoning of the devil ritual at Jamarat will be arrested and prosecuted.
The government is putting measures to avoid the kind of stampede that happened last year at Mina, which led to the death of over 2000 pilgrims. The Nigerian government later confirmed that at least 145 of the victims were Nigerians.
In a meeting with officials of Nigeria and other African countries in Mina on Monday, the Saudi Arabia Hajj Ministry representative, Sheikh Mohammed, said arrangements have been concluded to assign guides who will lead a group of 250 pilgrims at a time to the Jamarat and back.
” Any Pilgrim seen alone in Jamarat will be arrested and will face he highest punishment,” the Saudi official said.
He also said each group will not be led by a Saudi guide alone, but, that states would also nominate a guide for each group.
The official, who spoke through an official of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Aliyu Tanko, as interpreter, said the government is adopting the kind of schedule used for airlines at the airport.
” No flight arrives or departs the Airport until it’s rime is due, we intend to apply the same procedure for Jamarat,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed also said apart from the arrest and prosecution of any violating pilgrim, state officials responsible for the pilgrim would also face sanction.
“Take this schedule and timing as serious as the time for prayers,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said records of all groupings would be taken at the departure from tents and back. He said guides will be held responsible if they fail to return with the exact number of pilgrims they take to the Jamarat for the stoning ritual.
He also said pilgrims must only go with their assigned batch and time.