New Delhi: The death toll of Indian Haj pilgrims who have died in the stampede at Makkah in Saudi Arabia reached 18 as four more died, the government announced on Saturday.
“According to latest information, 18 Indians have died in the tragedy. Our mission is working with the Saudi authorities and family members to confirm the identities of the deceased and expedite the formalities for release of the mortal remains,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.
He also said, “officials on the ground have been working continuously to ascertain information and reach out to family members of missing pilgrims.”
Of the four dead, two are from Gujarat and one each from Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The two pilgrims who were from Gujarat were — Hafijabahen Satarsha Diwan and Syed Abdul Hussain. The pilgrim from Jharkhand was Rasul Ali, and from Uttar Pradesh, Moinuddin.
According to the list of 14 dead announced on Friday, nine of the victims were from Gujarat, while two each belonged to Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu and one was from Maharashtra.
Thirteen Indian pilgrims are among the injured.
At least 717 people have been confirmed dead in Thursday’s stampede, the worst tragedy to hit the world’s holiest Muslim pilgrimage in 25 years, while over 800 are injured.
India has rejected Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua’s claims denying her country’s links to the Pulwama terror attack, saying that JeM, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, is based in Pakistan, and the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”.
The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Friday termed as “preposterous” the demand for an investigation, saying there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
The spokesperson said India has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on bilateral relations and it has been sheltering terrorists and terror organisations such as JeM. He said Islamabad has not taken any action against such groups despite international demands.
India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror.
The spokesperson’s response came over Pakistan Foreign Secretary’s briefing rejecting Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attack on a paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed at least 45 troopers. Janjua met envoys of P-5 countries late on Friday.
The spokesperson said JeM has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“The organisation and its leadership are located in Pakistan. LeT and other terror groups have welcomed the news of the attack. These groups are also based in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot claim that it is unaware of their presence and their activities.
“They have not taken any action against these groups despite international demands, especially against groups and individuals proscribed by the UN and other countries. The links to Pakistan are clear and evident for all to see. Its own Ministers have shared the same podium with UN proscribed terrorists,” the spokesperson said.
He said there was audio-visual material linking JeM to the terror attack.
“The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the JeM. There are also other audio-visual and print material linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have therefore no doubt that the claim is firmly established,” the spokesperson said.
He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits.
“We have not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on relations with India. What we have noticed however, are claims to offer dialogue on the one hand, while sponsoring and sheltering terrorists and terrorist organisations such as JeM on the other,” the spokesperson added. (IANS)