RAMESHWARAM (TIP): This small temple town, with a population of just about 50,000, turned into mini India as one of the country’s most loved sons was laid to rest with full state honors on Thursday, July 30.
Hundreds of thousands turned up to pay homage to former President Abdul Kalam, many of them trudging several
miles for a glimpse of their hero. People waited patiently in a queue stretching four kilometers and those who could not make it in time to pay their last respects walked further to the 1.5 acre ground earmarked as the burial ground for the People’s President.
After a prayer session was conducted in his house, the mortal remains of the former president draped in the Tricolor were taken to the nearby Juma Masjid.
Top leaders across party lines including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a host of his ministers including Manohar Parrikar, M Venkaiah Naidu besides the Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, chief ministers of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh among others were present.
Among them was the 99 years old elder brother of the former president, Mohd Muthu Meeran Lebbai Maraicker, some of playmates, relatives as also members of his personal staff.The three services chiefs also paid their respects to the former Supreme commander of the country’s armed forces.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha had expressed her inability to attend the funeral, citing health grounds.
At around noon, Kalam’s body was lowered into the grave by his family members amid a 21 gun salute and strains of the Last Post played by army band. Cries of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Matram rent the air.
The town as well the areas around it had come to a complete standstill. All shops were shut, educational institutions were closed, so were offices and private institutions. Even petrol stations and eateries were closed as mark of respect for Abdul Kalam.
A massive security ring was thrown around the town and the surrounding areas in view of the hanging of Mumbai serial blasts accused Yakub Memon in the morning.
There are already demands for naming several institutions after the former president and words of grief continue to pour in from all parts of the country and abroad.