What is the Abdul Kalam memorial row?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Rs 15 crore memorial and also unveiled the statue of Kalam playing the musical instrument 'veena' at Peikarambu in Rameswaram. The former president was adept at playing the musical instrument. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 31, 2017 10:46 am
Abdul Kalam, gita, Gita controversy, Bhagavad Gita, Abdul Kalam Gita controversy, Abdul Kalam Bhagavad Gita controversy, Abdul Kalam Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Quran, Tamil Nadu, Peikarambu, india news The copies of Bible and Quran placed along side a wooden piece engraved with the words ‘Bhagavad Gita’ near the wooden statue of former president A P J Abdul Kalam, at his memorial in Rameswaram by one of his family members, on Sunday. (Source: PTI photo)

Days after a multi-crore memorial of former president A P J Abdul Kalam was inaugurated on the occasion of his second death anniversary in Tamil Nadu, an engraved ‘Bhagavad Gita’ near his wooden statue, inside the memorial, raked up a controversy. A wooden copy of the Gita has been sculpted along with the statue and has drawn opposition from various quarters. On July 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Rs 15 crore memorial and also unveiled the statue of Kalam playing the musical instrument ‘veena’ at Peikarambu in Rameswaram. The former president was adept at playing the musical instrument.

An MDMK spokesperson said party founder Vaiko had already questioned the need for a Gita there, when Kalam had, even in international fora, referred only from the Thirukkural. A PMK leader, on conditions of anonymity, also questioned the presence of the holy book, saying Kalam was common to all citizens of India.

To douse the fire of controversy, his family placed a copy of the Quran and Bible near the Gita. His relatives said Kalam was a leader to all Indians and no one should seek to politicise the episode. Sheik Dawood and Salim, his relatives, said, “An unnecessary controversy was raised by some people. DRDO officials worked tirelessly for the memorial construction and had not sculpted the Bhagavad Gita near the statue with any (ill) intention. Now we have left two books — Quran and Bible near the statue.” They added that they would also place a copy of Tamil treatise Thirukkural near it soon.

Abdul Kalam, gita, Gita controversy, Bhagavad Gita, Abdul Kalam Gita controversy, Abdul Kalam Bhagavad Gita controversy, Abdul Kalam Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Quran, Tamil Nadu, Peikarambu, india news On July 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had unveiled the statue of Kalam playing the musical instrument ‘veena’ at Peikarambu in Rameswaram. (Source: PTI photo)

However, leader of a local Hindu outfit objected to the placing of Quran and Bible near the statue on the ground that “no permission was taken” for the same. Hours later, officials manning the memorial kept the Bible and Quran in a glass box in the vicinity of the statue. Hindu Makkal Katchi leader K Prabhakaran filed a police complaint claiming that the two holy books (of Quran and Bible) were placed without permission from authorities. “I respect all these books. But keeping them (in the memorial) without permission is wrong. Steps should be taken to see that such things are not done again,” he told reporters.

The memorial also houses Kalam’s ‘samadhi’, built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), where the “People’s President” worked for decades, and other central government departments. The memorial has on display replicas of rockets and missiles on which the late scientist had worked. It has been built at a cost of Rs 15 crore on land allotted by the Tamil Nadu government. The memorial also has about 900 paintings and 200 rare photographs of the late scientist, who held the office of the president from 2002 to 2007.

A bronze statue of Kalam has also been erected at the memorial, the entrance of which has been designed in the style of the India Gate in New Delhi. The rear portion of the memorial has been modelled after the Rashtrapati Bhavan. A model of ‘Agni’ missile has also been positioned in front of the memorial. With ‘unity in diversity’ as its theme, the memorial features quotes of Kalam and pictures of him as a scientist and the president of India.

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  1. P
    Paramjit
    Aug 1, 2017 at 3:38 am
    People in India are yet to enlighten their thinking that religion is not absolute it is changing Philosophy, If philosophy does not change with time it is doomed. I have seen many people in India irrespective of religion and higher qualifications they are still stuck in their religion and cannot think rationally. I am sorry to say this is true for both Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs are not far behind. Education is a tool enlighten your thinking and not making you fanatic.
    Reply
    1. J
      Jay Smith
      Aug 1, 2017 at 1:45 am
      Hate is so easy to peddle it has too many customers. Oppenheimer and Einstein both quoted from Gita but Indian Muslims have a problem
      Reply
      1. U
        undefined
        Aug 1, 2017 at 4:53 am
        Mr.Kalam was dominated by BJP-NDA for president post!
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      2. T
        Temujink
        Jul 31, 2017 at 9:45 pm
        This is a INDIAN monument is for a INDIAN leader. DRDO - the greatest INDIAN organization has full right to do whatever it wants to do for the beloved Mr. Kalaam. PMK as a party thrives by dividing people by caste. (M)DMK exists by trying to project Tamil Indians as separate from the rest of the Indians. (The same impotent scums let millions of Tamils die in Sri Lanka, so they shouldnt have any credibility). Who cares what they think.
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        1. U
          undefined
          Aug 1, 2017 at 2:26 am
          How come you left out Congress men? what about whole TN!
          Reply
        2. S
          Sunil Sharma
          Jul 31, 2017 at 5:57 pm
          Wonder if Dr kalam change his religion after his death? ??? or did the bjp or rss change his religion . Next any leader after death will be seen with the gita. A STRONG DESIRE OF THE BJP RSS to convert any and every leader to get "SOME PUBLICITY". Next it will be world leaders, Dilai Lama, Chinese , american and even Pakistani and Middle east leaders statues will have the Gita next to them "STOP THE AFTER DEATH CONVERSION"
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          1. R
            Raj
            Jul 31, 2017 at 7:59 pm
            Why will Chinese , American or Middle eastern statues be there in India ? Kalam was fond of the Gita - this is well known to people who knew him or read his writings. Further, this memorial was made by the fellow scientists of DRDO - not by BJP - so your bogus allegation is not just silly but exposes anti-Hindu biase of a typical sickular quite well. There is no conversion - Hindus only "undo conversion" , they cannot "convert" people into Hindus. And Kalam didn't convert even though he was fond of the Gita.
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          2. M
            mohan
            Jul 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm
            Gita and thirukkural are of Indian origin Bible and koran are of middleeastern origin. Bible and koran should have no place in an Indian monument.
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            1. U
              undefined
              Aug 1, 2017 at 4:55 am
              Tamizh people is going talk Arabic!
              Reply
            2. J
              jackal
              Jul 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm
              Quran strictly prohibits making of statues and personality cult. So keeping quran near the statue itself is preposterous. Secondly the great scientist and ex president, and a greater human being has been converted to veena player posthomously. Whoever was behind this insulting idea should be brought to book and whole concept changed to suit the great human that Dr. Kalam was.
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              1. R
                Ram
                Jul 31, 2017 at 4:55 pm
                There is no need for keeping Bagavat Geethai near Kalam's statue. Thirukkural is the most appropriate book.
                Reply
                1. S
                  sreedhar
                  Jul 31, 2017 at 4:55 pm
                  RSS AND BJP is trying to convert a great person, a great Indian, who was incidentally also pious Muslim , to Hindu. This is posthumous proselytization. This is shows cheap politics and the depth to which the current BJP leadership can fall into for their political propaganda. This memorial could have been more suitable for a Ravishankar or Thiagaraja
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                  1. R
                    Raj
                    Jul 31, 2017 at 8:08 pm
                    Typical sickular brain dead loser - the BJP didn't build this memorial , it was built by the DRDO and his fellow scientists there. The Gita included in one of many dozens of statues of kalam - yet intolerant sickuarls who hate hindus can't tolerate Gita but give lectures on "secularism" like scoundrels. the only people making propaganda about this are the failed sickular losers who encourage people not to sing Vande mataram because it is against some desert religion but force Hindus to listen to Arabic prayer from loudspeaker 5 times a day from morning till night every day! Is that your secularism ?
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