Former prez APJ Abdul Kalam dies at 83

New Delhi,July 28: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam body will be kept at his official residence in New Delhi after it is flown in from Guwahati in a special aircraft so that people can pay homage to the man who played a key role in shaping India's missile and nuclear programme.

After being airlifted from Shillong to Guwahati in an air force helicopter, the body was flown to Delhi in a special military flight on Tuesday morning.

Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October and was the head of state during 2002-2007, died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest during a lecture at the IIM-Shillong on Monday evening.

The air force plane carrying Kalam's body is scheduled to arrive at the Palam airport in Delhi at 12.30pm. The mortal remains will be received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and the three service chiefs, said defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar.

The casket containing the body will be taken from Palam airport to Kalam's official residence at 10 Rajaji Marg in a gun carriage.

"The public can pay homage to late President APJ Abdul Kalam from 3pm onwards at 10 Rajaji Marg," Kar said.

The Union cabinet will hold a special meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday to condole Kalam's death. The government has announced seven days of state morning in honour of Kalam, who became affectionately known as the "people's President".

At the Guwahati airport, several leaders, including Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, senior officials of the army and air force and representatives of many organisations paid tribute to the "Missile Man" whose death plunged the nation into overwhelming grief.

The casket with his body, wrapped in the tricolour, was carried into the aircraft as a mournful hymn played in the background.

Chief minister Gogoi said, "With his death, the country has lost a great scientist who ignited young minds to make India vibrant and resilient."

Recalling Kalam's love for the northeastern region, Gogoi said. "I had the opportunity of meeting the former President several times and we travelled even to rural areas. I was his great admirer and he was deeply enamoured by the rich heritage and culture of Assam."

Kalam was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the intensive care unit of Bethany Hospital following his collapse at 6.45pm.

The body was then shifted to the Military Hospital in Shillong.

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