The body of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who died in Shillong on Monday evening, was carried to New Delhi early Tuesday morning by a special aircraft from Guwahati, as senior leaders and a host of officials joined in paying tribute to the country's 'missile man'.
Last respects were paid to the late former President at the tarmac of the Lokapriya Gopinath Borodoloi International Airport after his body was brought to Guwahati from Shillong by an Air Force helicopter at around 6:15 am. Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan travelled alongside as the body was ferried to Guwahati and later paid floral tributes to the Bharat Ratna. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led the state in paying respect to Kalam, calling Kalam's death an "irreparable loss" to the nation.
"It is an irreparable loss to the nation. He loved children, he loved the nation. I have met him many times. I took him to rural areas of Assam. He was a very simple and honest man. Along with India, entire state is mourning his death," Gogoi said. Kalam was one of the most popular faces of the country and he was "young in spirit till his last moment", he said. Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta also paid his respect to Kalam, the 'people's President'.
Host of senior Assam government officials, including Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia, DGP Khagen Sarma, Additional Chief Secretary MGVK Bhanu, Home Commissiner LS Changsan and Guwahati Police Commissioner Mukesh Agrawal too joined in paying rich tribute to the late former President. Many senior officials from the Army and Air Force were present on the occasion and also paid their respect to the 'missile man' of the country.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee President Anjan Dutta and other senior party leaders were also present and paid their respects.
After keeping it for about an hour and fifteen minutes at Guwahati, the body of Kalam was then flown to the national capital in the special aircraft of the Indian Air Force. Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest during a lecture at the IIM Shillong on Monday.
He was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany Hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 PM. The body of the late former president was shifted from Bethania Hospital, where he breathed his last, to the Military Hospital in Shillong, Defence Public Relations Officer Amit Mahajan said.
The Union Cabinet is to hold a special meeting in New Delhi today to condole his death. The date, place and time of his funeral would also be decided on Tuesday. The government has announced a seven-day state morning in honour of Kalam, who became affectionately known as the 'people's President.
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