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Guwahati: Former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam passed away on Monday evening at Shillong. He was 83. The “missile man of India” collapsed while delivering a lecture at the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management (RGIIM), where he has been a guest lecturer for a couple of years, on the outskirts of Meghalaya capital. 

Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany Hospital in a critical condition following the collapse around 6:30 pm. “Former president Kalam was brought to our hospital at around 7 pm this evening. When he was brought in there was no sign of life. He was taken to the ICU, but our efforts were in vain,” CEO of Bethany Hospital Dr John Sailo told.

According to a PTI report, Dr A M Kharbamon, a specialist who attended to Kalam after he was brought to the hospital, told reporters that he was declared dead at 7:45 pm. 

Asked whether he was brought dead, Kharbamon said: “Kalam showed no signs of life but could not have been declared so. On arrival, he showed no spontaneous respiration and (there was) no pulse, no BP and his pupils were dilated....The cause of death is sudden cardiac arrest.”

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Governor V Shanmuganathan along with top officials rushed to the hospital. 

The body was taken to the Military Hospital and will be kept there for the night. It will be taken by an Air Force helicopter to Guwahati at 5:30 am on Tuesday and from there to Delhi by a special aircraft.

Leaders cutting across the political spectrum paid glowing tributes to Kalam with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing him as a “people’s president” and an “inspirational leader” who dedicated his entire life to the nation.

The Union Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Tuesday morning to pass a condolence resolution. Both the Houses of Parliament are expected to make obituary references to Kalam and adjourn for the day as a mark of respect to the departed leader. 

Kalam, a Bharat Ratna recipient, was born on October 15, 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and he was the 11th President of India between 2002 to 2007. A bachelor, Kalam was an aerospace engineer and one of the most popular Presidents who inspired millions across the country. The Centre on Monday night announced seven days of national mourning as a mark of respect to the former president. 

The national mourning will be observed from July 27 to August 2, both days inclusive,i quoting an official statement.

Kalam will be accorded a state funeral and the date, time and venue will be intimated later. According to practice, the national flag will be flown at half mast throughout the country and there will be no official entertainment during the days. 

Government officials were talking to family members of Kalam to make arrangements for the funeral.

The Union Home Ministry was informing chief secretaries of all states, administrators of union territories and secretaries to the Union government about the decision.


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