The last rites of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam were held on Thursday in his hometown Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and a host of other dignitaries, including and chief ministers of some states, took part in the last rites that was held around 11am after ‘Namaz-e-Janaza’.The body of 83-year-old Kalam, who passed away in Shillong on Monday, was taken from the house around 9:30am to the mosque by the personnel of three services with the casket covered with traditional green shawl.
At the mosque, the Aalin or the chief priest read out special prayer and speak about the former president, who grew up from this island. Later, it was taken to the place of burial.
The body of the “Missile Man” was brought to his house on the narrow Pallivasal Street around 10pm on Thursday night after lying in state and left in the privacy of his family till Thursday morning.
The government declared a public holiday on Thursday, under the Negotiable Instruments Act. As a result, banks, insurance companies, schools and colleges are closed throughout the state.
The government has also ordered closure of liquor shops and bars.
Around 30,000 jewellery shops would also remain closed, while petrol bunks would stop selling for an hour between 10-11 a.m. as a mark of respect for Kalam.
Movie theatre owners too have decided to shut down while fishermen have decided not to venture into the sea.
Political parties like the DMK and the AIADMK have cancelled their functions.
Kalam, 83, passed away on Monday in Shillong after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture to students at the Indian Institute of Management.
His death witnessed a huge outpouring of grief across the nation. In Delhi, thousands waited for hours to pay their last respects to him. Long queues were also witnessed in Rameswaram, where his body was brought on Wednesday.
His ancestral home, House of Kalam, was besieged by milling crowds on Wednesday, prompting great-grandson APJ Shiekh Salim to plead with television crews to respect the family’s privacy. “My shocked great-grandfather is not in good health,” he said.
The government has declared national mourning for seven days.
Security has been tightened in and around Rameswaram in view of the large number of dignitaries who are expected to come.
Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr Kalam played a pivotal role in the Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan and India’s highest civilian honour – the Bharat Ratna — for his achievements.
Penning his tribute to Dr Kalam in his blog, PM modi wrote, “Bharat has lost a Ratna”. “Our scientist-President – and one who was genuinely loved and admired across the masses – never measured success by material possessions,” he said.