The Delhi government did what the Centre did not, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday while inaugurating a memorial built for former president APJ Abdul Kalam at Dilli Haat.
Kejriwal promised to further develop the memorial into a knowledge centre.
The memorial has come up at the INA Dilli Haat and houses photographs and belongings of Kalam, who was known as the Missile Man of India.
Kalam died on July 27, 2015, after suffering a cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at IIM, Shillong.
“This memorial will inspire millions and the next generation. He was a president of the masses. Few months ago, I came to know that the Centre is not building any memorial to honour Kalam. It was then that the Delhi government decided to step in. We are now planning to convert it into a research centre,” Kejriwal said.
Situated inside the rear gate no. 2 of Dilli Haat, the large courtyard and a small souvenir shop that form the memorial building are evocative of the former president’s ancestral house in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. It is a small memorial with simple design, built to capture the spirit of a humble leader, tourism department officials said.
The museum has an audio-visual presentation highlighting the former president’s life. Among the personal belongings on display are clothes, shoes, spectacles, notes and documents and a few utensils.
The wall panels are adorned with his paintings and quotes from his books. A narrative on visually illustrated panels of his life as a teacher, scientist and the President of India can be experienced by visitors at the memorial museum, entry to which is free.
An online petition started by senior journalist R Bhagwan Singh forthe formation of the Kalam Memorial had garnered around 33,000 signatures earlier. It was launched on October 27, after Kalam’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence was allotted to Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma.
“I came to know in October that Kalam’s residence was being vacated. His ancestral place did not have enough space to be converted into a memorial. So I started an online petition on October 27. I am yet to receive any response from the Centre but the Delhi government promptly responded. I have now urged that the memorial be converted into a knowledge centre,” Singh said.
During Saturday’s event, Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia took a jab at the BJP-led Centre saying while the AAP believed in Kalam’s ideas, there are sections whose “culture is hatred, divide and rule.”