Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs intends to keep track of Hajj pilgrims by using trackers. These trackers will be attached or worn by the pilgrims during Hajj allowing the Pakistani authorities to keep track of the pilgrims’ movements.
Last year, more than 2,000 pilgrims were killed in the tragic Mina stampede and hundreds more got injured or went missing for days. More than 300 hundred Pakistanis died or got lost. It was called the most horrific incident of 2015 and the worst ever in the history of the annual pilgrimage. The government wants to prevent such an accident from happening again and keep note of a pilgrim’s location at all times. This should help completely eliminate the “missing pilgrim” problem.
The ministry contacted three different tracker companies regarding the matter. One of those has been selected, however, the government did not mention how much the contract costs and whether the government has subsidised the price of these trackers. Initial information states that each tracker will add at least Rs. 7,000 to the price of a Hajj package.
The tracker can be attached to lockets, bracelets, etc. to monitor the pilgrims’ location data. Using the smart technology, people can be easily traced out in any incidents like a stampede. All trackers will be connected to a centrally controlled monitoring system, which will remain active throughout the duration of the Hajj in both cities of Saudi Arabia. Sensors built into the trackers will send location data back to the authorities.
Sardar Yusuf said that “Each pilgrim will be tracked and accounted for.” When asked about the complaints regarding residential issues, the minister said that each pilgrim will have their residence within 500 metres of the holy places in Makkah and Medina.
In addition to all this, the government has set up a helpline which can be used by the pilgrims or their relatives to inquire about the Hajj.