Thousands of mourners poured into Rameswaram to attend former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s funeral and pay their last respects. Dr Kalam was laid to rest on Thursday morning with full state honours in his home town.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, and a host of other dignitaries including several union ministers and state chief ministers attended the last rites.
Union ministers Manohar Parrikar and Venkaiah Naidu were present. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Kerala CM Oommen Chandy and Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu were all present. Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa was not able to attend the funeral, but many Tamil Nadu ministers including state Finance Minister O Panneerselvam were present at the ceremony to bid their last farewell to the ‘People’s President’. Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah also attended the ceremony. Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad and CPI-M veteran VS Achuthanandan were also among those who paid homage.
Chiefs of all the three forces were also present to pay their last respects.
People bid an emotional farewell to the former President who endeared them with his simplicity. Dr Kalam’s body was first taken to a local mosque from his ancestral home for special prayers. Teary-eyed mourners followed the carriage that carried his mortal remains and walked with Dr Kalam in his last journey.
After paying his respects, PM Modi walked up to Dr Kalam’s oldest brother, 99-year-old Mohammed Muthu Meeran Lebbai Maraicker, and offered his condolences.
All business establishments including shops and hotels remained shut in Rameswaram and across the state as a mark of respect as Tamil Nadu government had declared a state holiday.
Tight security was in place in and around the town of Rameswaram. Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police personnel were deployed in the sea to secure the dignitaries and the thousands of people gathered.
Dr Kalam passed away in Shillong on Monday evening following a cardiac arrest. He collapsed on the podium while giving a lecture in IIM Shillong.