RAMESWARAM (Tamil Nadu), July 30 (IANS): Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was laid to rest on Thursday here with full military honours in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other leaders who paid tributes to the man who strengthened India's missile programme and played a key role in country's 1998 nuclear test - making him a national hero.
The body of Kalam - warmly called the people's president - was draped in the Indian tricolour and brought to the burial site at Pei Karumbu here in a flower-bedecked gun carriage, escorted by columns of the three armed services.
People in large numbers lined up along the route to catch a last glimpse of Kalam, the rocket and missile scientist who was awarded the country's highest civilian honour - the Bharat Ratna - in 1997 and bid him a tearful final goodbye.
Many had climbed atop an under construction building and other buildings to see their illustrious son-of-the-soil.
People cutting across political, religious and other lines came in large numbers to Kalam's native town to participate in his last journey.
Many could scarcely believe that he would no longer return to his hometown.
Kalam had died on Monday in Shillong after suffering a massive heart attack during a lecture he was delivering to students of Indian Institute of Management.
A 21-gun salute was accorded to the former supreme commander of the armed forces and a military band played the haunting 'Last Post'.
After Kalam's body was lowered into the earth, prayers were held following which the grave was closed and then covered with flower petals.
Modi, who arrived here, paid his last respects to the country's youth icon and popular president by laying a wreath. he then stood in silence before the casket for a while.
The prime minister also went up to Kalam's eldest brother, 99-year old Mohammed Muthu Meeran Lebbai Maraikayar and offered his condolences.