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Former Indian president Abdul Kalam dies aged 83

Updated July 27, 2015

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Former Indian president Abdul Kalam died at the age of 83. —AFP/File
Former Indian president Abdul Kalam died at the age of 83. —AFP/File

SHILLONG: Former president of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam died on Monday after collapsing collapsing while delivering a lecture in Shillong, northeastern India.

Kalam, 83, collapsed while addressing the students of the Indian Institute of Management in the Meghalaya in Shillong and was rushed to the nearby Bethany hospital where doctors gave him emergency treatment while trying to revive him.

"He was brought into the hospital without a pulse or blood pressure, there was no sign of life," said John Sailo Ryntathiang, director of Bethany Hospital.

Kalam died from cardiac arrest in Bethany Hospital, according to hospital chief executive officer John L. Sailo.

B. Warjri, chief secretary of Meghalaya state, confirmed that Kalam died on Monday evening at a hospital. He was 83.

Kalam served as president of India for five years from 2002, and enjoyed support of both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress at the time. He was known as the father of the country's military missile programme.

Popularly known as “Missile Man,” Kalam led the scientific team that developed missiles able to carry India's nuclear warheads.

He became a national folk hero after helping oversee nuclear tests in 1998 that solidified India's status as a nuclear weapons state. India's first atomic test was in 1974.

Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam won his spurs as the country’s missile man. He played a pivotal role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

Kalam, who wrote a book called “Ignited Minds,” became best known as a tireless campaigner for unleashing India's technological muscle and discouraging expensive imports from the West.

Born on October 15, 1931, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Kalam graduated from the prestigious Madras Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed his condolences on Twitter: “We have lost an ideal citizen. May his soul rest in peace.”

Condolences from Pakistan

Pakistan expressed condolences on the demise of Dr. Abdul Kalam, former President of India.

“Dr. Kalam will be remembered for his meritorious services for his country,” a statement from the Foreign Office said.

“May Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in peace and give fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss,” the statement said.

President Mamnoon Hussain also expressed grief over the demise of the former Indian president.

According to a press statement issued from the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family and the people of India.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also expressed deep condolences on the demise of the former Indian president. The PM prayed eternal peace for the departed soul and commiserated with the bereaved family.