IRONICALLY, WE ARE PRESENT
IN AN EXPOSED WORLD,
SURROUNDED BY UNEXPOSED MYSTERIES.”
A sudden thought of curiosity comes to mind upon glancing at the peaceful night sky as it reminds us of our existence in this mysterious world. Although , human intelligence has solved several mysteries of this great universe, but we are still unaware of the origin of human life, existence of life on other unknown planets etc. The uncertainty of our future in the present COVID-19 pandemic , is itself a mystery!
One such unsolved enigma which gained wide popularity in 1966 was the sudden and sceptical demise of the second prime minister of independent India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was on a national duty in a foreign country, at the time of his death.
BIRTH AND NATIONAL SERVICE– Born on 2nd October 1904, this great disciple of Mahatma Gandhi shares his birth date with him. However in India, only a handful of people are aware that 2nd October, which is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti every year, also happens to be Shastri Ji’s birthday. He was a great political leader who led the white revolution, a campaign to increase the production and supply of milk in India. Apart from it, the revolutionary Green Movement was also enacted under his supervision in 1965.
RISE TO POWER- He became the second prime minister of India, after the unfortunate demise of Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1964. Several powerful politicians across the world have recognized Lal Bahadur Shastri as a great visionary leader, who drove the independent India towards tremendous progress. He engineered India’s victory in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and gave the famous slogan, ‘JAI JAWAN, JAI KISAN’ for the upliftment of soldiers and farmers, our national heroes. According to Indian Armed Forces, his constant motivation encouraged them during the strenuous war.
The war officially ended on a peace treaty which was signed between India and Pakistan in Tashkent on 10th January 1966. The subsequent day, Shastri Ji allegedly died of a cardiac arrest which wasn’t accepted by his own family as well as the Indian public. However the actual cause of his death remains shrouded as a mystery, till date.
DEATH AND SUSPICION-
- ABSENCE OF BUZZER-BELL IN HIS ROOM– The hotel room where he stayed in Tashkent had no buzzer-bell in it, which arouses great suspicion because he was a national political guest in Tashkent , but he had no formal method to call his servant in times of need. Furthermore, according to his family, he had no history of heart ailments, which surprisingly became the cause of his death.
- THE SUSPICIOUS MILK THERMOS– When he was discovered struggling for life, he was pointing towards his milk thermos, perhaps indicating the presence of some poison in it, which induced the severe attack at night, when there was no one to help him, as interpreted by several theories.
- REPLACEMENT OF COOK– Apparently, his personal cook Ram Nath had not prepared the food for him that night, instead another cook, Jan Mohammad cooked the last food, he ate. This fact also aroused a lot of criticism because of this ‘unusual’ change and that too, in a foreign country.
- DEEP CUTS ON HIS BODY– When his body was handed over to his family, his wife, Lalita Shastri had inquired about the presence of certain cuts and bluish patches on his head and other parts of the body, but this concern was never examined.
Moreover, she also insisted to conduct a post-mortem of his body, but it wasn’t accepted by the ruling party of that time, The Indian National Congress. This is also a reason for his death becoming a mystery, as no post-mortem was ever conducted in Tashkent or India.
- LACK OF EVIDENCES– The major witnesses included his personal doctor, R.N. Chugh and his cook, Ram Nath who accompanied him to Tashkent. However their statements were never recorded as both were hit by moving vehicles which led to the death of the doctor, while the cook lost his memory.
UNSATISFACTORY RTI RESPONSE AND POLITICS– The government had suppressed a citizen’s right to truth by releasing no information related to his death. An RTI was filed by Anuj Dhar and Kuldip Nayyar, which was declined by PMO stating that it could hamper foreign relations causing breach of parliamentary privileges. Several speculations were being made regarding the role of malignant politics in this case; perhaps there were few leaders, who wished to replace Shastri.
THE CIA (central intelligence agency) ANGLE– A journalist had conducted an interview of a former CIA operative, Robert Crowley, about four years after that event, who claimed that the death of Homi J. Bhabha and Lal Bahadur Shastri was the work of CIA, pertaining to their ambitious inclination towards nuclear tests, which could perhaps make India dominating over Russia. However, no strong and definite evidences could be extracted out of this theory.
There have been theories regarding the involvement of Pakistan or Russia in Shastri Ji’s death but any country would not create a situation of international war by murdering a foreign political leader in their own land. Secondly, the peace treaty signed by General Ayub Khan was actually a benefit to Pakistan as it was severely affected at the time of war, which indicates ‘absence of motive’ to enact the alleged murder.
PUBLIC RECEPTION AND RESPONSE-
- FAMILY– The mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri was not accepted by his own family. Suspecting it to be a planned murder, Lalita Shastri was extremely disappointed because of the irresponsible government response towards the death of a national leader. Her melancholic tale was given a wrap of words by Krant M.L Verma, in the form of a book titled, ‘Lalita Ke Aansoo’. His white cap stained with blood marks, is still kept safe with his grandson, as his reminiscence.
- PUBLIC VIEW- The 2019 movie, Tashkent Files, based on unnatural events of the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri had been instrumental in instigating the vigilant public to probe in the matter and to raise voice regarding their right to information, which the Government had deliberately seized.
The vicious, obnoxious and foul political powerplay has deliberately attempted to eradicate even the minute memories of Late Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri from the pages of history, as well as from the minds of people. The death of Shastri Ji came as an enormous loss for the nation. India could have attained unfathomable momentum in several fields nearly fifty decades back, using his utmost exemplary ideology.
It’s quite astonishing, that even after several decades, we know nothing but just a story, which we have been compelled to believe in. Undoubtedly, the need of the hour is to question the existence of the rights which have been allotted by the government to its citizens. They are sheerly worthless, if they curb our right to raise voice in political affairs of our own country. Nevertheless, there is yet a hope that this vicious circle would not stretch its hands so far as to suppress the sunshine of humanity.
By Adamya Tyagi, Ludhiana