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'Allah hu Akbar, Dr Kalam ki Jai' chants ring loud at Kalam's funeral

By Saisuresh Sivaswamy
July 30, 2015 11:42 IST
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IMAGE: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam's cortege makes its way out of the narrow mohalla around the mosque in Rameswaram. Photograph: Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com

Thousands throng the narrow mohallas around the Mohideen Aandavar mosque in Rameswaram for former President A P J Abdul Kalam's Alvida Namaaz. Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com reports from Rameswaram

The Mohideen Aandavar mosque in Rameswaram had anticipated a crowd for A P J Abdul Kalam's Alvida Namaaz on Thursday, July 30. Still, it could not have expected the thousands of people, Muslim and Hindu, who thronged the narrow mohallas around the mosque.

Clearly, the security agencies did.

With the three service chiefs expected to be at the mosque to receive President Kalam's mortal remains after the prayer, they had put up barricades to regulate the crowds that had started gathering from early as 8 am.

IMAGE: Crowds gather outside the Mohideen Aandavar mosque in Rameswaram to pay their final respects to former President A P J Abdul Kalam. Photograph: Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com

At one point the situation looked uncontrollable, with the muezzin repeatedly appealing for silence and order.

The sight of so many Muslims in their skull caps, and Hindus with their head covered, offering prayer side by side on the streets best summed up President Kalam's syncretic life and times.

IMAGE: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam's elder brother Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraicker, along with other family members, pays his last respects in Rameswaram. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

All the noise, the melee, quietened down when the muezzin gave his cry to prayer. 'Allah hu Akbar, God is Great,' and the crowd roared back in acknowledgement.

It was a brief prayer, not longer than five minutes at best. The crowd peacefully repeating 'Ameen' after every verse.

IMAGE: The three service chiefs were at the mosque to receive President Kalam's mortal remains after the prayer at the Mohideen Aandavar mosque in Rameswaram. Photograph: Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com

Once the namaaz was over came the real problem. How to take President Kalam's cortege outside, with crowds filling out the access streets.

Once again the muezzin exhorted the crowds to give way, reminding them it was the house of God and to please disperse peacefully. As the defence forces stepped out with the cortege, phones were whipped out for photos, the crowds roared 'Allah hu Akbar, 'Dr Kalam ki Jai'.

IMAGE: People head towards Thangichimadam where President Kalam will be laid to rest with full military honours. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

Finally the funeral procession moved outside, where thousands of people lined up the road leading up to President Kalam's final resting place to catch a final glimpse of the military truck as it rolled out.

Rameswaram has downed shutters today to enable the public to pay their respect to its legendary son.

IMAGE: People line the road leading up to President Kalam's final resting place. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

This will be one final farewell India will not see again in a long, long time.

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Saisuresh Sivaswamy / Rediff.com in Rameswaram
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