RAMESWARAM: As his body was brought from the national capital to his native town on Wednesday afternoon, thousands of people from all walks of life from across the country awaited on both sides of the road and joined a serpentine queue to catch one last glimpse of the man who made them believe in themselves — former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
The crowd that gathered right from the morning swelled by afternoon, even before his mortal remains reached Tamil Nadu. From Madurai airport, the body was taken to Mandapam by a helicopter, where officials paid the final respects. From there, the security personnel and Army accompanied the body to the coastal town during the last leg of the journey. As the body reached the designated ground by evening, the air was filled with cries, tears and slogans of ‘Vande Matharam’ from hundreds of people, who were emotionally moved by the moment. According to security personnel overseeing the arrangement, the body was handed over to the family around 10:00 pm. No one else was allowed to pay homage.
As per the tentative schedule, the funeral procession would start from his home at 9:30 am on Thursday. The body would be first taken to the mosque close to his house, and from there the procession would move towards the one-acre ground at Peikarumbu near Pamban bridge, ear-marked for the purpose. Army sources said the procession would be led by personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force, called the ‘front order’. This will be followed by the music band, behind which will be ‘bearer vehicle’, the vehicle carrying the body. The mortal remains would be accompanied by the closest relatives, a maximum of around 10 persons. VIPs would come next, followed by one more band and another group drawn from the three forces, like in the case of the front order.