Chennai, Oct 28: Three months after the demise of former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, his personal belongings have finally reached Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu.
This, after widespread speculation that his official residence at No 10, Rajaji Marg in Delhi, might be converted into a national memorial as desired by his family members and followers.
The Urban Development Ministry has now been allotted the house to Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who will take the possession after the renovation work gets completed.
As reported by OneIndia first, the Modi Government was categorical in declining all demands to covert the house into a museum, with the view that a memorial befitting the top missile scientist is already being planned at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.
Sources told OneIndia that the pressure tactics by a group of former aides of Dr Kalam using social media and a section of vernacular media did not go well with the government.
A 20-member team, including minister Sharma had recently visited the No 10, Rajaji Marg residence to take stock of the situation.
During their visit, Dr Kalam's belongings were being packed by a private agency mandated to transport them to Rameswaram.
"The Type-VIII bungalow will be handed over to us (Central Public Works Department) on October 30 or 31. All items of ex-President have been shifted out now. Some of his staff members are still using the office. There will be some repair work and painting job done before it's handed over to the next occupant," an official said.
All items accommodated at House of Kalam
Speaking to OneIndia, Sheikh Saleem, grand nephew of Dr Kalam said that all items have reached Rameswaram on Tuesday (Oct 27) night.
"There are 204 boxes, mostly books, and we have now accommodated them at House of Kalam. We will take a decision on the display of these items only after a proper memorial comes up," Saleem said.
When asked about the government's decision not to set up any memorial or ‘Knowledge Centre' (as requested by the family), Saleem refused to make a direct comment.
"We are committed to continue his work through Dr A P J Abdul Kalam International Foundation. He has left us with enough work to execute and we want to focus on achieving them," Saleem said.
Saleem had recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and is expected to play a visible role in the months ahead.
Longest serving aide left in the lurch?
Interestingly, one of the longest serving aides of Dr Kalam will now have to get back to his parent organisation (Ministry of Defence) within two days.
A senior member of House of Kalam said that ‘all efforts' to find a suitable post for him met with little success.
"Despite the assurances from Union ministers and senior MoD officials, his case couldn't get any favorable response till now. He is a silent worker who served Dr Kalam for over two decades. We hope he finds a suitable posting soon matching his skills, experience and seniority," a family member said.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India and is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)