RAMESWARAM/NEW DELHI: The last rites of former president Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam will be held today in his hometown Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. The funeral is expected to begin at 11 a.m., and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries are likely to attend.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was scheduled to attend, but will skip it as she is not well. Seven ministers of the state government will attend the function on her behalf.
Dr 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 in the sultry heat for hours to pay their last respects to him. Serpentine queues were also witnessed in Rameswaram, where his body was brought on Wednesday.
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. All the rooms in major hotels had been booked for two days.
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.