The special aircraft carrying the mortal remains of former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam landed at his hometown in Rameswaram on Wednesday afternoon. Early today morning, the personnel of all three armed forces gave a rich send-off as the special aircraft took off from the Palam airport at around 08:15 AM today. Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accompanied the mortal remains in the special aircraft.
The former head of the state will be laid to rest on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too will be attending the last rites.
Wrapped in tri-colour, Dr. Kalam’s body was taken to the airport in a gun carriage from his official residence 10, Rajaji Marg in New Delhi. Even at 7 AM in the morning, there were many who had come to pay homage to the departed former President.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam died on Monday evening after he collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong. Dr. Kalam would have turned 84 in October. The 11th head of the state occupied the position between 2002 and 2007. A Seven day national mourning period has been declared.
His body was brought in at the national capital on Tuesday afternoon from Guwahati airport. President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Md. Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all three Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces and a host of other dignitaries had received Dr. Kalam’s body at the Palam airport.
There was a massive stream of the ordinary people and individuals apart from political leaders cutting across the political line, who paid their tributes to Dr. Kalam at his 10 Rajaji Marg residence, where the body was kept for public viewing.
Several school kids across the country and residents in some cities had also held a candle light vigil as the mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who is also known as the ‘People’s President’.
The funeral of the former President will be held in Rameswaram, his birth place in Tamil Nadu, on Thursday with full military honours. The Central Government has declared a seven-day state mourning in the honour of Dr. Kalam. The Parliament too paid homage with both the Houses adjourned for two days.
The Tamil Nadu state government has also announced a public holiday on July 30 as a mark of respect to the departed soul.
(With inputs from PTI)