New Delhi | The nation today paid homage to former President A P J Abdul Kalam with leaders cutting across the political spectrum and personalities from different walks of life hailing him as a true son and a real gem.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of dignitaries offered last respects to 83-year-old Kalam whose mortal remains were brought here from Shillong, where he died last night of a massive cardiac arrest.
The dignitaries placed wreaths on the body that was wrapped in a tri-colour and placed on a deck on the tarmac at at the Palam technical area after it was brought down from a special IAF aircraft that ferried it from Guwahati.
The President and other dignitaries stood in silence as a tri-services guard of honour was given before the former President’s body was taken in a flower-bedecked gun carriage to his residence at 10 Rajaji Marg, where people in large numbers paid their homage.
A host of VIPs led by the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister also went to his Rajaji Marg residence and paid floral tributes to unarguably India’s most popular President described as a true nationalist. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, three service chiefs and the Marshal of the Indian Air Force 96-year-old Arjan Singh, D Raja of CPI, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar were among the dignitaries, who paid their last respects to the departed soul.
The funeral of the former President will be held in Rameswaram, his birth place in Tamil Nadu, on July 30 with full military honours. He would be given a state funeral and the last rites would be held at 11 AM on Thrusday.
The family of Kalam whose elder brother Muthu Mohammed Meeran Maraikkar (99) had wished that the last rites be held in Rameshwaram. Earlier the body of Kalam, who collapsed during a lecture at the IIM and died of cardiac arrest, was taken from Shillong in an Air Force helicopter to Guwahati, where Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi paid his respects.
The Union Cabinet passed a resolution condoling the death hailing his services to the nation. It said, in his passing away the country has lost a visionary scientist, a true nationalist and a great son. Both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day after paying glowing tributes to Kalam. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will now meet on July 30. A seven-day State mourning has been declared by the Government.
In its resolution, the government said that Kalam was passionate about transforming society through technology, in particular by inspiring the youth of India to harness science and technology for human welfare. Kalam made significant contribution in developing India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle and made India an exclusive member of Space Club, it said.
Popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’, Dr Kalam was responsible for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles. He gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by introducing Light Combat Aircraft, it read. The BJP Parliamentary Party met before the Cabinet.
The Prime Minister said the former President was an ordinary man with an extraordinary personality who gave the best to every position he held and that India has lost a rare gem in his demise. Modi said the best tribute to Kalam would be to work to realise the dreams he had for the country.
Talking about Kalam’s roots in Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister said language at times works as a barrier but it was the speciality of his character that no Indian felt any diificulty in connecting with him. In Dr Kalam’s death, the country has lost a sagacious statesman, a great scientist and a friend of the under- privileged and a fine human being, the Lok Sabha said in a condolence resolution read out by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
She described Kalam as the real gem of India who till his last breath, was doing what he loved best, interacting with young India, igniting their minds with scientific temperament and spirit of inquiry.
Kalam was a noble man of 83 years, with energy and enthusiasm of 38 years and an innocent smile of an 8-year old, Mahajan said about the departed leader who served as the President from between 2002 and 2007. In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari termed Kalam’s death as an irreparable loss to the country.
He said the country has lost a true son of India and his contributions to the nation, in his capacity as a man of technology, a teacher and a leader will be deeply cherished by a grateful nation.
Members in both Houses stood in silence for a brief while before the proceedings were adjourned for the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi told reporters, President Kalam was the people’s President.
He was a President who had the ability to connect with India’s youth. We will miss him, his thinking and his vision. I t is quite apt that he worked till the last second of his life. It was the way he lived his entire life and we are proud of him.
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