RAMESWARAM: Respecting the sentiments of the family members of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, the Central government has agreed for his last rites to be conducted at his home town in Rameswaram on Thursday. His body will be flown here on Wednesday afternoon and it will be kept for public view till 8 pm, Ramnathapuram Collector K Nanthakumar said.
Ever since the news of the demise of their ‘gem’ reached the island region, the small town of Rameswaram has been wearing a mournful look.
By morning, big hoarding with Kalam’s pictures were put up in various places. On Monday night, his elder brother Muthu Mohammed Meeran Maraikayar (99), other family members and local residents expressed their desire for his body to be brought back to Rameswaram.
On Tuesday, Collector Nanthakumar met Maraikayar and Sheik Saleem, grand nephew of Kalam, at their residence and informed them that the body would be brought to Rameswaram around 1 pm on Wednesday. “The place to conduct the last rites has not been decided yet,” Nanthakumar said. District officials were inspecting a site near a mosque, adjacent to the railway station for burying the former president. Speaking to Express, Sheik Saleem said, “Once the body reaches Rameswaram, it will be taken to Jamath near the bus stand, where it will be kept in an open ground for the public to pay homage till 8 pm.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers of six states, including Andhra Pradesh leader Chandrababu Naidu, Madhya Pradesh Cm Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar, and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis; and other senior BJP leaders will be coming to pay their final respect,” said K Muralidharan, BJP National Council Member from Rameswaram.
Since Kalam’s thousands of fans and other eminent personalities want to bid a proper adieu to their inspirational leader, the family members have decided to take his body out on a procession before conducting the final rites as per Islamic tradition, Sheik Saleem said.
Many schoolchildren visited the house, carrying candles to pay homage to Kalam. Youth of the village also made arrangements outside his house with a big picture of Kalam along with his famous book Wings of Fire. Auto drivers came in huge numbers to pay respect to Kalam. “It is thanks to Kalam that we are able to earn some money,” said an auto-driver, showing a tourist pamphlet that included Kalam’s house in the tourist sightseeing list.