The mortal remains of former President APJ Abdul Kalam were flown from Delhi to his hometown of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday morning, after thousands of people paid their last respects to the “Missile Man”.
In Rameswaram, where Kalam was born and spent his formative years, the body will be kept at his home for people to pay homage till 7 pm. The funeral will be held at 11 am on Thursday.
The C-130 Super Hercules aircraft of the Indian Air Force carrying Kalam’s body took off for Madurai from Palam airbase in Delhi at 8.15 am after all three services gave a send-off in the presence of urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain.
Kalam's body, wrapped in the tricolour, was taken to the airbase at 7 am in a gun carriage from his residence at 10 Rajaji Marg, where thousands of people had bid farewell to the man who became known as the “people’s President”.
Naidu and Parrikar accompanied the body and minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, who is from Tamil Nadu, will join them later.
The aircraft will land in Madurai, from where the body will be carried in an IAF helicopter to Rameswaram, a small fishing town where Kalam grew up as the son of a boatman.
Kalam’s family, including his 99-year-old brother M Maraikayar, live in Rameswaram. Kalam's three other brothers and lone sister died years ago. Local residents have been thronging Kalam's single-storey ancestral home, and auto-rickshaw drivers and shopkeepers have put up banners across the town to mourn its most famous resident.
The 83-year-old scientist who played a key role in shaping India’s missile and nuclear programme
died after suffering a massive cardiac
arrest while delivering a lecture at IIM-Shillong on Monday evening.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among the host of dignitaries who received Kalam’s body when it was carried in a special flight from Guwahati to Delhi on Tuesday.
The government has declared seven days of state mourning in his honour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid glowing tribute to Kalam in an article shared with Hindustan Times, calling the former President his 'marg darshak' (guide) who epitomised the values of self-restraint, sacrifice and compassion.
Modi said the Kalam never measured success by material possessions. "As a hero of our defence programme, he shifted horizons; and as a seer of the spirit, he sought to liberate doctrine from the narrow confines of partisan tension to the transcendental space of harmony," he said.