Lal Bahadur Shastri, India’s second Prime Minister and a Congress leader, died a mysterious death in a foreign land. Even today, decades after his demise, there are no clear answers. It is said that the circumstances leading to Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death were manipulated in order to safeguard those responsible for it.
For the first time in modern world history, a head of government died in a foreign country. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s sudden demise because of poison intake, barely two years after his taking over as the Prime Minister, shocked the nation so much that the pain still lingers in our collective memories.
We were made to believe that Shastri died of heart attack. This was purely an eyewash. Doctors have gone on record, saying Shastri had no history of heart diseases. When his body was brought home from Tashkent, his mother, who would die nine months later, spotted bluish patches on her son and cried out loud: “Mere bitwa ko jahar de diya!’
The Congress high command forced Lal Bahadur Shastri to visit Tashkent to end the Indo-Pakistan war by signing an agreement with Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan. That fateful night, Shastri died without any warning. Shastri had asked for a commitment from the Pakistani general that Pakistan would never use force in the future. However, the peace process could not be completed as Lal Bahadur Shastri was silenced.
Shastri, many historians say, was given poisonous food in his dinner. His residence was in an isolated place and Shastri did not have even the basics – telephone, ring bell and medical facilities. Was it all by design? To isolate him and then kill, leaving no witness? Immediately after dinner, he went to his bed, slipped into a coma and left for heavenly abode.
It was the Congress, perhaps, that made sure that the real reasons for his death was not revealed. His wife Lalita Shastri, had alleged that her husband was poisoned. She made the claims after consulting numerous doctors and specialists. The Russian butler attending to Shastri was taken into custody, but was later cleared of all charges. The Indian Government made no effort to get to the bottom of his death. The media, back then, was kept in the dark and there hardly any questions asked. In fact, there was no post mortem done after Shastri’s death!
Does it not point towards a conspiracy to take Shastri out? Unless the confirmed reports on his death comes out, saying there was no foul play, there will be theories.
This the most damning evidence of foul play – When Kuldip Nayar filed an RTI to access information on Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death, the government replied: ‘PMO has cited exemption from disclosure on the plea that it could harm foreign relations, cause distruption in the country and cause a breach of parliamentary privilege.’
Doesn’t it sound as if there was an attempt to shield the responsible party? Speculations are also rife that Indira Gandhi had a dark role to play. She was the direct beneficiary from Shastri’s death. With Shastri out of the equation, Indira Gandhi wanted to lead the country without any opposition and resistance within the party.
Lal Bahadur Shastri remains the least respected, most neglected prime minister till date!