Former president and Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam dies in Shillong
He collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in the Meghalaya capital on Monday evening.
Shillong: Former president and Bharat Ratna Dr Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam died in Shillong on Monday after he collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in the Meghalaya capital. Kalam (83) took ill and collapsed at around 6:30 PM at the function. He was rushed to Bethany hospital's ICU in Nongrim hills area of Shillong. Doctors tried to revive him but failed to do so. Army doctors were also called but they declared him dead due to a cardiac arrest at 7:45 PM.
Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan and Chief Secretary PBO Warjri visited Bethany hospital where Kalam was admitted.
Warjiri spoke to Union Home Secretary LC Goyal asking for necessary arrangements to be made for carrying Kalam's body from Guwahati to Delhi on Tuesday morning. Kalam's dead body has been taken ton the military hospital for embalming. It will be taken to Guwhati by a helicopter and from there flown to Delhi.
The government has decided to declare national mourning for seven days. Both the Houses of Parliament are likely to make obituary references and adjourn as a mark of respect to his memory.
Kalam, who was the 11th President of India, was a very popular head of state between 2002 and 2007 but lack of consensus denied a second term in office for a man who came from outside political spectrum. He was also known as India's missile man for ensuring the success of Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
Kalam had very humble origins but he went on to specialise in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology. He worked with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and Indian Space Research Organisation and later went on to become the President in the most unexpected manner during the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee after an all party consensus minus the Left Front saw him through in an election which he won handsomely.
Known as India's "Missile Man", Kalam was the brain behind the success of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). As Chief Scientific Adviser to the then prime minister Vajpayee, he was also instrumental in the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998. As President, Kalam utilised any opportunity that came to him to address students, especially school children, to dream big so that they became achievers in life.
A bachelor, the former president was a veena player and was deeply interested in Carnatic music. He was vegetarian all his life.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and leaders cutting across party lines condoled the demise of the former president.
Modi described him as 'marg darshak' while the Home Minister termed him as an inspiration to an entire generation. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Kalam was a darling of youths and students. Azad said Kalam was always happy to be among children and educational institutions. Even he breathed his last in the premises of an educational institution, he noted.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram said in recent history only a few people had endeared themselves to the young and old, to the poor and rich, to the educated and the unlettered and to the people belonging to different faiths and speaking different languages.
(With inputs from PTI)