Mysuru, Dec 29: After months of neglect, the burial place (kabar) of former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam at Pei Karumbu in Rameswaram seems to have got some attention finally.
Sheik Saleem, grand nephew of Dr Kalam and spokesperson of House of Kalam told OneIndia over phone from Rameswaram on Tuesday that the ground leveling work is expected to begin today.
"The officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have met us. They have promised to take up the work immediately. The ground leveling work will begin first followed by the fencing work," Saleem said.
"It is raining heavily in Rameswaram for the last two days. DRDO also has plans to strengthen the temporary shelter as a permanent memorial comes up," says Saleem.
However, the actual memorial work for the memorial will only begin after the Ministry of Defence (MoD), DRDO and House of Kalam finalise the design.
A section of media had reported that the memorial work would begin today. "The memorial work will begin only after a few months. Right now the officials are ensuring that the kabar is safe and the surroundings are clean," says Saleem.
DRDO likely to launch nation-wide design contest
He said the DRDO is planning to launch a nation-wide campaign inviting an appropriate design for the memorial.
"He was the People's President and hence the DRDO wants to involve the people to design the memorial. Once the fencing work is completed (expected to take over a month), the DRDO will announce the design competition," Saleem said.
He said five top designs from architects will be shortlisted and finally one will be selected.
"We have been told that there will be prizes for the winners. The family has requested to bring bricks and sand from all states of India for the memorial work. We also wanted a member from House of Kalam to be nominated to the Memorial Committee. They have accepted the suggestion so that we too have a say in the memorial design," says Saleem.
"We want to thank the government and the people. Hope the work will now continue without any delays," says Saleem.
Silent online campaign gathers momentum
Meanwhile, House of Kalam transferred the ownership of the online petition by A P J M Marakaiyar launched on Change.org to the campaign managers of #Justice4GuruKalam for speedy updates. The petition was launched on December 24 and is addressed to Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu.
"We are happy with the government's decision to get on with the memorial work. We have told the #Justice4GuruKalam team to update the online petition with positive news from Rameswaram. We respect the sentiments of people and we will inform them all updates from here," Saleem added.
Over 18,000 people have already signed the petition in the last five days.
An updated post on #Justice4GuruKalam FB page said that the silent campaign would continue till the memorial work is completed.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. Currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow with University of Mysore, he is a Consulting Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)