Kendrapara (Odisha): While nation mourns the death of the "peoples' president", an orphaned girl from a far flung village of Odisha remembers the gesture of A P J Abdul Kalam towards her HIV positive siblings ten years ago.
"For me, he was a saviour. My younger brother and sister were HIV/AIDS carriers. My infected siblings are alive today, thanks to the timely intervention of Kalam uncle," she said requesting not to be named.
"I was overwhelmed with joy when the postman had brought me a letter signed by the then President and a draft of Rs 20,000 in June, 2005. I had written to Kalam uncle highlighting the plight of my siblings," the woman of Olaver village in Kendrapara district recalled.
"At that time, I was hardly 11-years-old while my siblings were six and four-years-old. As my parents had passed away, I was looking after them. I had learned from media that he was people's president. He loved children. I wrote a letter to him," she said.
Kalam intervened and the local administration came the rescue of the family. Help later came in from various quarters, she said.
The Chief Minister's office had also come forward to grant Rs 20,000 financial grant. President's gesture had also brought about a change of heart of the health officials, the woman said. "They had begun to pay added medical attention towards my brother and sister."
"My siblings have successfully fought against AIDS since past one decade. The presidential intervention had given a new lease of life to them. We are deeply sad over his demise. I feel as if I have lost a close member of my family," she said.
A resident of Ramnagar district too remembered Kalam and condoled his death.
"We are bonafide citizens of this country. But the administration had branded us Bangladeshis and had been served notice to leave India on January 15, 2005. We dispatched post cards to the then President Kalam," Prafulla Mistry said.
"The President intervened and sought a report. A month later, the deportation drive was put on hold. We believe that union government suspended deportation because of presidential intervention. His death is a personal loss to us," Mistry said.