The nation today observes the first death anniversary of former President and Bharat Ratna awardee Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. In a measure to mark the occasion, the government today unveiled a life-size statue of Kalam at Peikarumbu here.
The unveiling was done by senior NDA ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Manohar Parrikar. "Dr. Kalam will live forever in our minds and hearts. His thoughts continue to be with us all the time,” Naidu said, adding that it was difficult to believe that “Dr. Kalam passed away and that this great man left all of us for his heavenly abode".
The government, including the Prime Minister, have displayed immense respect for India’s ‘missile man’. He has been celebrated as one of the ‘greatest gurus’ and a great asset for India in numerous fields.
However, the man that India has so much love and respect for, today lies neglected not too far from his life-size statue that was unveiled today. While Naidu and Parrikar today laid the foundation stone for a national memorial for the 'Missile man' of India, the development has perhaps taken too long a time to come.
Kalam’s grave has been lying on a site which has all but a tin roof, littered with dogs defecating around it. The matter has drawn attention for months now, with the issue even being raised in Parliament.
A P J M Maraikayar, Kalam’s elder brother, launched an online signature campaign to seek people’s help for the speedy construction of a memorial for Kalam.
In the short petition posted on Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/build-a-memorial-at-kalam-s-burial-site-kalamme...), Maraikayar expressed his grief and concern over the issue.
“It has been 5 months since my brother Dr APJ Abdul Kalam passed away. Today his burial site is strewn with animal droppings all over. There were promises made of a memorial at the burial site. But the work for this memorial has not even started,” says the 99-year-old.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last year announced that a memorial would be constructed to commemorate the life and works of Kalam, also known as India’s Missile Man, at Rameswaram in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu where he is buried.
However, a perceived tussle between the state government and the Centre over allocation of land has resulted in inordinate delay in according the respect to the mortal remains of India’s most loved man. Of course, this is something that both parties refuse to accept.
“Dr Kalam spent his whole life serving the country. The Central Government must deliver the promise and build my brother the memorial he deserves,” Kalam’s brother said in the petition.
With the foundation stone being laid, one only hopes that the delay witnessed in the first steps is not replicated in the days to come.
The petition is addressed to Union Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu.
“I am 99 years old and cannot run after them to make this happen. I need your support. This is the wish of every Indian,” he concludes.
Venkaiah Naidu and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today unveiled a life-size statue of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam at Peikarumbu here on Wednesday. Today is the first death anniversary of the former president.
Inaugurating the bronze statue, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, "Dr. Kalam will live forever in our minds and hearts. His thoughts continue to be with us all the time.
"It is difficult still to believe that Dr. Kalam passed away and that this great man left all of us for his heavenly abode," he said.
Kalam passed away on July 27 last year after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at IIM-Shillong in Meghalaya.
(With inputs from PTI)