5 months after death of "People President", still no memorial built on site.

Five months after demise Abdul Kalams grave languishes under a make-shift shelter Image source: Justice4GuruKalam/Facebook
news Monday, December 21, 2015 - 18:10

"All his life Dr Kalam worked for the country. Is this any way to treat a great leader?" asks Salim, the grandson of the elder brother of Kalam. 

It's been almost five months since the demise of former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and his burial at Pei Karumbu in Rameswaram in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself paying respects. 

However, Kalam's kabr or burial place remains neglected as no work for the proposed memorial to be built on the site has started.

At present, a make-shift shelter has been set up around Kalam's kabr, which is protected by the local police. 

Anantha Krishnan, a senior aerospace and defence journalist, has now started a Facebook campaign called "Justice4GuruKalam” seeking "a befitting memorial built at â€Ş#‎GuruKalam's resting place".

"Rameswaram is a cyclone prone area and the temporary structure can fall apart anytime. Why is there a delay in even building a decent structure on his kabr? It is not rocket science," Krishnan says.  

While the Tamil Nadu government has allotted 1.5 acres of land to construct a memorial for Kalam on the burial site, several Union Ministers met last month to discuss various proposals for the memorial. However, no final decision seems to have been made on this issue yet. 

"Five months after his death, the 'People's President' is resting under a tin-shed," says Krishnan. 

"There are cats and dogs defecating near the spot, visitors who sneak through barricades and take photographs near the grave. There's absolutely no system in place and no decorum either " he adds. 

The temple town of Rameswaram attracts a significant flow of visitors, especially during the weekend. And with the House of Kalam and now his burial site in the area, Krishnan says, it has almost become "like a tourist package" for people. 

Krishnan spoke to both the MP and MLA from Ramanathapuram, but says they are playing the "blame game" and that there is "politics involved" in it.

MP Anwar Raja told OneIndia that the TN government had done its bit by allocating the land for the memorial and that now it is the Centre's turn to build it. 

And according to MLA Dr MH Jawahirullah, the site "should not be just a memorial alone" and that "Besides the kabar, there should be a library, science centre and healthcare centre" as well. He too said that the Centre needed to start work on it. 

India7 Network/flickr

The family of Kalam is also disappointed at the sheer negligence of the government. 

"Several members of his family have been buried at a private place which is maintained by the family. It is only because Kalam was a public figure that they agreed to have him buried at a spot which people could visit and where they could pay their respects. The family can't guard it, the government has to do it" says Krishnan. 

According to Salim, the Centre announced a memorial for Kalam in Rameswaram in October following which officials from the defence ministry visited the spot to take measurements. But no development has been made so far. "The place is not even being maintained properly with plastic and paper strewn all over the spot. We just hope that the government builds the memorial as soon as possible," he says.

Krishnan, however, wonders what exactly is causing the delay for the government to build even a basic structure over Kalam’s kabr. "We are hoping that the issue gets some attention and the government works on it. We need to respect our dead," he says. 

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