SHILLONG: India's 11th President APJ Abdul Kalam died on Monday evening at a hospital in Meghalaya, where he had gone to deliver a lecture. He was 83.
The former President, who was in office from 2002 to 2007, had collapsed during the lecture at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, around 6.30 pm. He was taken to the Bethany hospital. Doctors said he had suffered from a massive cardiac arrest.
"President Kalam was brought to the hospital at 7 pm. When he brought in there was no sign of life. He was taken to ICU to try and revive him, which was futile,"
The government will declare a seven-day national mourning, reported Press Trust of India, quoting Union Home Secretary LC Goel.
Paying a special tribute to Dr Kalam later in the evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "My mind is filled with so many memories, so many interactions with him. Always marvelled at his intellect, learnt so much from him."
Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, "Deeply saddened at the sudden demise of the former president of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He was an inspiration to an entire generation."
Known as the Missile Man of India, Dr Kalam had played a pivotal role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. One of the most loved Presidents, he was also known as the People's President. While in his 70s, he was nominated for the MTV Youth Icon of the Year award in 2003 and in 2006.
For his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna.
A bright student, his interest in flying led to a degree in aeronautical engineering, and eventually to supervising the development of India's guided missile programme.