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Shillong mourns Kalam, Guv, minister accompany body to Delhi

Shillong: Personnel of Indian Air Force and Indian Army carrying the mortal remains of former President APJ Abdul Kalam at Air Force Helipad in Upper Shilong on Tuesday.

Shillong: A P J Abdul Kalam, who was only the second President to have officially visited Meghalaya in 2005, will always occupy a special place in the hearts of the people of the hill state, which has declared a public holiday today as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

There was very little vehicular traffic on the usually congested roads with the locals fondly remembering the ‘people’s president’, who visited the state four times.

The former ‘missile man’ had collapsed onstage at IIM, Shillong, last evening while delivering a lecture and was rushed to a private hospital where he was later declared dead.

Kalam was a visiting faculty at the IIM and had once delivered a lecture on ‘Societal Transformation With Technology And Its Application’, the institute’s spokesperson Merlvin Mukhim said.

Last evening, he was in the midst of a lecture on ‘Creating A Liveable Planet Earth’ when he collapsed barely a few minutes into it.

People in the Meghalaya capital remained glued to the TV through the day watching the mortal remains of their beloved former president being carried from Shillong to Guwahati on way to New Delhi. As the casket was brought down from the aircraft at Palam Airport amid drizzle, many saw in the precipitation the heaven’s regret at his sudden departure.

“Tribal legends have it that such a phenomenon takes place when a great soul departs and the light drizzle signifies the tears of regret and disappointment at his unfinished job on earth,” Balajied Singh Syiem, a tribal chief told.

“He is loved, revered and remembered by all citizens here because of his greatness in simplicity. We are happy destiny brought him here before he breathed his last. There will always be a special bond of Kalam and Shillong,” he said.

Kalam was only the second President to have undertaken an official visit to the state in 2005 after Dr Rajendra Prasad’s in 1952.

As a reflection of the former president’s enduring bonds with the state, Governor V Shanmuganathan and Home Minister Roshan Warjri accompanied his mortal remains to New Delhi.

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