Bengaluru, July 28: After Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's sudden demise on Monday, July 27, his close friend Mahabaleshwara Bhat remembered the most popular former president of India. Bhat, who was Dr Kalam's classmate, recalled their engineering college days.
While speaking exclusively to OneIndia, Bhat said that Dr Kalam never believed in caste discrimination. Despite being a Muslim, Dr Kalam used to accompany Bhat to temples.
Bhat, who now works at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bengaluru, also claimed that his friend wanted the country to be free from all barriers of caste and religion. Dr Kalam believed that elimination of caste and religious discrimination would help the country to progress.
Remembering Dr Kalam as "an average but hard-working student", Bhat told, "He was a man with big thoughts, even after reaching at such a position, he always remembered me as a friend and he came to meet me whenever he visited Bengaluru."
Dr Kalam's friend was shocked to get the news about his demise, as the two friends met each other 10 days back. "He was in good health when I met him," Bhat told OneIndia.
Bhat and Dr Kalam were roommates during the first year in college in Madras (now Chennai). Even after shifting to another room in the second year, Dr Kalam used to accompany Bhat for evening walks "without fail".
On being asked about his relationship with the then President of India, Bhat told OneIndia, "He (Dr Kalam) was a simple and hard-working man with high thinking. He was known as the "Missile Man of India". Kalam often visited HAL and met me."
Bhat described Dr Kalam's death as a "big loss" for him and for the nation as well. The former President of the country passed away on Monday, July 27, evening, when he was delivering a lecture at IIM-Shillong.
He collapsed on the dais and was rushed to Bethany hospital, where doctors tried their best to revive him.
83-year-old Dr Kalam breathed his last at 7.45 pm, according to the hospital's press release. His body was brought from Guwahati to Delhi on Tuesday, July 28.
He will be accorded state funeral at his hometown in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu on Thursday, July 30.