An engraved ‘Bhagavad Gita’ near the statue of late president A P J Abdul Kalam kicked up a controversy, with his family seeking to end the row by placing a copy of the Quran and Bible near it.
However, in latest development, leader of a local Hindu outfit objected to the placing of Quran and Bible near the statue on the ground that “no permission was taken” for the same.
Hours later, officials manning the memorial, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, kept the Bible and Quran in a glass box in the vicinity of the statue.
Hindu Makkal Katchi leader K Prabhakaran filed a police complaint claiming that the two holy books (of Quran and Bible) were placed without permission from authorities.
“I respect all these books. But keeping them (in the memorial) without permission is wrong. Steps should be taken to see that such things are not done again,” he told reporters.
Vaiko-led Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Pattali Makkal Katchi have raised questions on the need for keeping the engraved ‘Bhagavad Gita’ alongside the wooden statue of Kalam playing the musical instrument ‘veena’ in the Rs 15 crore memorial, designed and built by the Defence Research and Development Agency with which Kalam was associated for a long time.
Meanwhile, Kalam’s relatives Sheik Dawood and Salim said, “An unnecessary controversy was raised by some people. DRDO officials worked tirelessly for the memorial construction and had not sculpted the Bhagavad Gita near the statue with any (ill) intention. Now we have left two books -- Quran and Bible near the statue”.
They said they would also place a copy of Tamil treatise ‘Thirukkural’ near the statue soon.
They said Kalam was a leader to all Indians and no one should seek to politicise the issue.
An MDMK spokesperson said party founder Vaiko had already questioned the need for a Bhagavad Gita there, when Kalam used to refer only from ‘Thirukkural’.
A PMK leader, who did not wish to be named, also questioned the need for sculpting the wooden piece with the name of ‘Bhagavad Gita’, saying Kalam was common to all citizens of India.
The memorial at Peikarambu, inaugurated on the second death anniversary of the popular scientist at his home town in Rameswaram, also has on display a replica of rockets and missiles on which the late scientist had worked.
Besides, about 900 paintings and 200 rare photographs of Kalam, who held the office of president from 2002 to 2007, are on display at the memorial.