The Parliament of India paid homage to former President Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who passed away on Monday evening in Shillong. Both the houses of the Parliament were adjourned till July 30, post the obituary reference as a mark of respect to the departed head of the state.
Members of both the houses also observed silence in the memory of former President.
“His death is an irreparable loss to the country. His life will always remain a source of inspiration,” said Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari in the upper house.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also paid tributes to the late former President, who was affectionately referred to as the ‘People’s President’.
“Dr Kalam while he passed away did what he loved, interacting with the young. He came to be known as the ‘Missile man’ of India,” said Ms Mahajan adjourning the lower house till Thursday.
Dr. APJ 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.
The body of the former President was flown in to Guwhati airport from Shillong early on Tuesday morning, from where it will be taken to the national capital Delhi by a special aircraft. Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan, who travelled alongside the body paid floral tributes to the Bharat Ratna. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led the state in paying respect to Kalam, calling Dr. Kalam’s death an “irreparable loss”.
According to the government sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief of all three forces will be receiving his body at the Delhi airport. Dr. Kalam’s last rites will take place at his home town Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu at the request of his family members.
Earlier on Monday evening, President Pranab Mukherjee had paid rich tributes to Dr. APJ Kalam.
“In his passing away, we have lost a great son of India who dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the motherland and its people. Dr. Kalam was a people’s President during his lifetime and will remain so even after his death,” said President Pranab Mukherjee.
Dr. Kalam was honoured with Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in 1997, for his contribution to the missile programme. He was also awarded Padma Bhushan in 1981 and Padma Vibhushan in 1990.
Born in Rameshwaram town of Tamil Nadu on 15th October 1931, Dr. APJ Kalam rose from humble origins to become the President during the BJP-led NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.
(With inputs from the PTI)