Former President APJ Abdul Kalam worried about the terror attack in Gurdaspur and the repeated disruptions of Parliament in his final hours before he collapsed during a speech at the IIM-Shillong and died.
The 83-year-old scientist hailed as the “Missile Man” shared his concerns with his aide Srijan Pal Singh while travelling from Delhi to Shillong via Guhawati on Monday.
Singh, who co-authored the books “Target 3 Billion” and “Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future” with Kalam, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the former head of state was “absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab”.
The loss of innocent lives “left him filled with sorrow”, Singh wrote.
The topic of Kalam’s address at the IIM-Shillong was “Creating a live-able planet Earth”, and he related the terror attack to the topic and said, “It seems the man-made forces are as big a threat to the live-ability of Earth as pollution.”
Kalam and Singh discussed how, if the trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action continued, people will be forced to leave Earth. “Thirty years, at this rate, maybe,” he said. “You guys must do something about it…it is going to be your future world.”
Seven people, including a senior police official, were killed in the terror strike in Gurdaspur before security forces gunned down the three attackers.
He also brought up the frequent disruptions of Parliament by the opposition. Singh wrote that Kalam had been worried for the past two days that “Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional”.
Singh quoted Kalam as saying, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure (as President). I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the Parliament works on developmental politics.”
Kalam even asked Singh to prepare a “surprise assignment question” for the students at IIM-Shillong, where he collapsed during his speech on Monday evening. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead.
The former President had wanted the students to suggest three innovative ways to make Parliament more productive and vibrant.
But he remarked to Singh: “But how can (I) ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself?”
For almost an hour, Kalam discussed various options with Singh, who wrote that they both wanted to include this issue in their upcoming book “Advantage India”.
Kalam and Singh discussed several issues on the 2.5-hour flight from Delhi to Guwahati and the subsequent two-hour drive from Guwahati to Shillong.
Describing Kalam’s final moments, Singh said he heard a long pause from Kalam when he was two minutes into his speech.
“I looked at him, he fell down. We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving (him) with whatever I could,” Singh wrote.
“His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible.
“In five minutes, we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes, they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time.”