New Delhi, July 28: The nation on Tuesday paid homage to former President A P J Abdul Kalam with leaders cutting across the political spectrum and personalities from different walks of life hailing him as a “true son” and a “real gem”.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of dignitaries reportedly offered last respects to 83-year-old Kalam whose mortal remains were brought here from Shillong, where he died on Monday night of a massive cardiac arrest.
The dignitaries placed wreaths on the body that was wrapped in a tri-colour and placed on a deck on the tarmac at at the Palam technical area after it was brought down from a special IAF aircraft that ferried it from Guwahati.
A host of VIPs led by the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister also went to his Rajaji Marg residence and paid floral tributes to unarguably India’s most popular President described as a true nationalist.
The President and other dignitaries stood in silence as a tri-services guard of honour was given before the former President’s body was taken in a flower-bedecked gun carriage to his residence at 10 Rajaji Marg, where people in large numbers paid their homage.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, three service chiefs and the Marshal of the Indian Air Force 96-year-old Arjan Singh, D Raja of CPI, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar were among the dignitaries, who paid their last respects to the departed soul.
The funeral of the former President will be held in Rameswaram, his birth place in Tamil Nadu, on July 30 with full military honours. He would be given a state funeral and the last rites would be held at 11 AM on Thrusday.
The family of Kalam whose elder brother Muthu Mohammed Meeran Marakkair (99) had wished that the last rites be held in Rameshwaram.
Earlier the body of Kalam, who collapsed during a lecture at the IIM and died of cardiac arrest, was taken from Shillong in an Air Force helicopter to Guwahati, where Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi paid his respects.
The Union Cabinet passed a resolution condoling the death hailing his services to the nation. It said, “in his passing away the country has lost a visionary scientist, a true nationalist and a great son?.
(With Agency Inputs)