A special aircraft carrying mortal remains of former president APJ Abdul Kalam departed from the Palam airport in Delhi for Madurai in Tamil Nadu. From Madurai, Dr Kalam’s body will be taken by road to his hometown of Rameswaram where the funeral will take place.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and senior BJP leaders like Shanawaz Hussain were present at the Palam airport.
On Tuesday, after Dr Kalam’s body was brought from Shillong, where he passed away, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the long queue of dignitaries to pay tribute to Dr Kalam.
Among those who were waiting to receive the body at the Palam technical area were Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the three service chiefs. The body was then taken to his residence at 10 Rajaji Marg, where dignitaries as well as the public paid their last respects to the “people’s President”.
Earlier on Tuesday, both houses of Parliament adjourned for the day after paying glowing tributes to Kalam. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will now meet on July 30.
In a resolution passed at a special meeting on Tuesday morning, the Union Cabinet said “the country has lost a visionary scientist, a true nationalist and a great son”.
“Dr Kalam made significant contribution in developing India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle and made India an exclusive member of the space club. Popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’, Dr Kalam was responsible for the development and operationalisation of Agni and Prithvi missiles. He gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by introducing the Light Combat Aircraft,” said the resolution.
“Dr Kalam was passionate about transforming society through technology, in particular by inspiring the youth of India to harness science and technology for human welfare,” it added.
Calling Kalam “an inspiring individual, a great scientist, a popular President and above all an indomitable spirit filled with new thoughts and energy,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said he was a role model for millions of people in the country and abroad. “Dr Kalam was ECI’s first national icon for voter awareness and participation in 2010 and since then has been championing the cause of greater participation for stronger democracy in the country,” he said.
Pakistan envoy, other Diplomats pay homage
Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon were among the top foreign diplomats who paid homage to former President A P J Abdul Kalam here on Tuesday.
“May Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in peace and give fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss,” Basit said in his condolence message.
“I was fortunate and honoured to have met this great man and to be inspired by his personality, achievements and vision. RIP,” said Carmon.
“My condolences to the Indian people on the passing of former President Abdul Kalam, an inspiring scientist and leader,” said US Ambassador Richard Verma.
Meanwhile, condolence messages also came from world leaders.
“I am saddened to hear the news of the demise of former Indian president Kalam. Nepal has lost a good friend and I have lost an honoured and ideal personality,” said Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
“Sincere condolences on the sad demise of Dr A P J Kalam. A great and inspirational Indian President,” said Maldivian High Commissioner to India Ahmed Mohamed.