Shillong: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, a popular President between 2002 and 2007, passed away on Monday after he collapsed during a lecture in Shillong.
Kalam (84) took ill at a function in Shillong and was rushed to the hospital, M Kharkrang, SP Khasi Hills, said.
The former President collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong at around 6.30 pm and was taken to the hospital. TV reports earlier said that Kalam suffered a massive cardiac arrest at the function at IIM Shillong.
“The former president was brought almost dead to our hospital. He is in a critical condition. We are trying to revive the patient,” John Sailo Ryntathiang, director of Bethany Hospital, had told IANS.
“He is in the Intensive Care Unit. We are examining him. We suspect that it could be cardiac arrest,” Sailo had said.
Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan and Chief Secretary PBO Warjri visited Bethany hospital where Kalam has been admitted.
Chief Secretary PBO Warjiri told reporters outside the hospital that he had spoken to Union Home Secretary LC Goyal asking for necessary arrangements to be made for carrying Kalam’s body from Guwahati to Delhi on Tuesday morning.
The Meghalaya Governor, along with state government officials and defence personnel, will accompany his body to New Delhi, according to Times Now.
Government will declare national mourning for seven days, said Union Home Secretary LC Goyal.
Earlier during the day, Kalam had tweeted about his function at IIM Shillong.
Among the key reactions to this sad news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Kalam’s death, describing him as “marg darshak”.
Popularly called the “Missile Man” of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam rose from humble beginnings and earned the reputation of being the “people’s President” who endeared himself to all all sections, especially the young.
A devout Muslim and son of a boatowner, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who assumed office as the 11th President on 18 July, 2002, was seen as a figurehead who could help heal some of the scars of the communal riots which broke out in Gujarat just a few months before.
Acknowledged as the driving force behind India’s quest for cutting-edge defence technologies, Kalam’s contributions to India’s satellite programmes, guided and ballistic missiles project, nuclear weapons programme and the Light Combat Aircraft(LCA) project made him a household name.
(With agency inputs)