Former President APJ Abdul Kalam Laid To Rest In Rameswaram; Modi, Rahul Pay Last Tributes

30/07/2015 10:41 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
MIB India

Thousands thronged the coastal town of Rameswaram in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday for one last glimpse of former President A P J Abdul Kalam. The 'People's President' was laid to rest today in the town, the place of his birth.

With full military honours and in the presence of the country's top leaders, family members and a chanting crowd, Kalam was laid to rest in his hometown Rameswaram.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi placed a wreath on and saluted the mortal remains of Kalam, paying his last respects to the former President.

The Prime Minister then met Dr Kalam's family at Rameswaram.

There were slogans of "Bharat Mata ki Jai" and people waved the national tricolour as Dr Kalam's body was taken in a carriage covered with flowers to the burial site.

Union ministers Manohar Parrikar, Venkaiah Naidu and Pon Radhakrishnan, who accompanied the body, handed it over to the members of Kalam's family in the presence of an array of state ministers led by O Panneerselvan.

Other ministers also paid tributes:

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was also present at the ceremony:

Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm in view of the funeral of the former President.

Airlifted from Delhi, the coffin first reached Madurai. In the afternoon, it was flown to Mandapam Camp, where the Army, Navy and Air Force personnel paid their tributes.

As the body was brought to Rameswaram town in a decorated vehicle, thousands of people, including children, stood on both sides of the 20km stretch and paid their tribute by throwing flowers and holding candles.

"I am a big fan of Dr Kalam. He was a very real youth hero," a young student, who has come for the funeral, told reporters in Rameswaram .

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is expected to attend the last rites today, but Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has sent word that she is unwell and so cannot attend.

B Ganesan, a 54-year-old man, who will lay the former President to rest, told Indian Express that he first heard about Kalam only this May when he visited his home town. “I met him when I was cleaning the masjid compound. I just folded my hands, I think he smiled at me,” he said.

Ganesan's assignment at 11 am Thursday will not be much different from what he does for a living every day. This month, he did three burials.

"I heard people proudly saying that he (Kalam) was a famous scientist and later became the President of India… I am told he never made much money, and that his family still lives in a small house,” Ganesan told Express.

Dr Kalam, 83, had died on Monday in Shillong. He suffered a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management.

Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr Kalam played a pivotal role in the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. He was awarded India's highest civilian honour - the Bharat Ratna - for his achievements.

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