Take a look at this picture. Looks familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, it is the resting place of India’s 11th President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Pei Karumbu in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu.
Strangely, the place looks quite odd for a luminary who is still remembered as the ‘People’s President’. Shockingly, it has been so ever since the death of the former president, which was on July 27, 2015.
On the first anniversary of Dr Kalam’s death next week, the AAP-led Delhi Government will unveil a Kalam Memorial at Delhi Haat. Yet the original place where the former president rests in peace continues to be in a deplorable state despite a massive online campaign that succeeded in drawing India’s attention to it and called for the construction of a proper memorial.
A Bharat Ratna, Dr Kalam was unarguably the greatest President India has ever had and one of the finest scientific minds who helped shape India’s future in aerospace and defence. And yet we do not have a proper memorial to his name!
If it were not for the Facebook campaign launched by journalist Anantha Krishnan in December 2015, India would have probably remained unaware of how the beloved scientist had only a tin shed for a roof to brave the elements.
The page showed India how cattle and stray dogs roamed about defecating all around the place and how there was no proper barricade to prevent people from touching the resting place.
It was following the campaign that the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government took note of the site. A fence was constructed later, but that’s all.
Krishnan launched a Change.org petition on July 18 to get a memorial constructed on the 1.5 acre land. By the morning of July 19, the petition had over 1 lakh signatures of the targeted 1.5 lakh.
— ✈Anantha Krishnan M✈ (@writetake) 18 July 2016
Today in the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien raised the memorial issue.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the House that the Tamil Nadu government is cooperating with the Centre, but land ownership issue has delayed the memorial’s construction. The government, however, assured that a foundation of the memorial will be laid on July 27 itself without further waiting for the land ownership issue to be sorted out.
It should be noted here that Dr Kalam is the only member of his family to have been buried outside of the family graveyard. His family decided to do so to honour the sentiments of the people of India who saw Kalam as a leading light of knowledge and the only inspirational figure in Indian politics.