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Family seeks probe into Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death

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credit: www.deccanchronicle.com

By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s son Anil Shastri on Saturday said his father’s death in 1966 – soon after signing a peace pact with Pakistan in Tashkent- could have been “unnatural” and demanded all government documents on the matter be made public. Anil’s younger brother Sunil Shastri also demanded an enquiry.

credit: www.wefornews.com
credit: www.wefornews.com

“The moment my mother (Shastri’s wife Lalita Devi) saw the body (after it was brought back to Delhi), she knew it was not a natural death. She told us it was a murder, there was out and out foul play,” Anil Shastri told a news channel.

However, Anil Shastri told a news agency that he did not think his father was poisoned. “I don’t think he was poisoned. There is some doubt about his death that keeps surfacing every now and then in the past five decades,” he said.

Clarifying his statement made during his TV interview, he said, “I have said it could have been an unnatural death or even natural death. I don’t have any evidence to say anything specifically.”

He, however, reiterated his demand for a thorough probe into his father’s death.

“These doubts have been voiced not by the family, but even by other people from time to time. The NDA government should declassify all the documents relating to Shastriji’s death for putting all the speculations to rest  about the death of the former Prime Minister, soon after Tashkent agreement’s signing ,” Anil Shastri told.

In his interview, Shastri, a Congress leader, urged the Prime Minister  Modi to release the documents and said it would not be ‘a bad idea to have an inquiry into his death, question all remaining witnesses and clear all speculation and at least establish the negligence’.

Shastri and Pakistani president, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, had been invited to Tashkent by then Soviet Premier, Alexei Kosygin, for peace talks following the India-Pakistan War in 1965. An agreement was signed on January 10, 1966, but Shastri was found dead a few hours later.

credit: www.outlookindia.com
credit: www.outlookindia.com

His family indicated that marks and spots seen on his body were signs of foul play.

Recalling the scene, Anil Shastri said, “When his body came to the Palam airport, we found that the body had turned blue and there were white spots on his temple.”

He termed it ‘unbelievable’ that the prime minister’s room in the capital of then Soviet Uzbekistan had ‘no call bell, no telephone, no caretaker in his room and no first aid. He had to walk up to the door himself’ and alleged that the death was due to the Indian embassy’s fault, and it was a incident reflecting ‘height of negligence’.

His death was badly handled by the Indian government. It hurts me to a great extent,” he said.

Opining that Shastri’s death was not taken ‘seriously’, he said, “Post-mortem could have been done in Tashkent on   Indian government’s call or on a request from the Indian doctors.”

“Some close associates feel that suspicion revolves around an Indian hand or a foreign power,” he added.

Anil Shastri claimed that his father had come to know about a scam involving shipping tycoon Dharam Teja. He told that an article by eminent journalist Khushwant Singh claimed Teja was in Tashkent at the time of his father’s death.

He also claimed that his father was likely to take action and order an inquiry against Teja after his return to India.

Anil Shastri also raised the sudden death of Dr.R.N. Chugh, the personal physician accompanying the then Prime Minister. Chugh had later died in an accident with his family.

He also added that his father’s personal assistant too met with an accident in which he crippled and lost his memory.

Sunil Shatri, who is a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, told a news agency that he had written to three prime ministers – Chandra Shekhar, I.K. Gujral and Manmohan Singh – requesting them to initiate an inquiry over his father’s death but nobody ever did anything.

“Chandra Shekhar and Gujral had replied that they will look over the matter, but nothing has been done till now,” he said.

Shastri’s grandson Siddharth Nath Singh told that it was a long-pending demand of the family. The history, when written on Shashtri ‘should speak the truth‘.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Lal Bahadur Shastri’s 112th Birth Anniversary: 10 Things you may not know about former Prime Minister of India

Shastri was the one who promoted the White Revolution in India, by supporting the Amul milk co-operative of Anand, Gujarat and also created the National Dairy Development Board

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Lal Bahadur Shastri, June 1964, New Delhi, India. Source: www.storyzest.com

October 2, 2016:

“There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the crossroads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need to be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations.”
– Lal Bahadur Shastri

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

Former Prime Minister of India Lal, Bahadur Shastri was one the greatest leaders India had and he has left an indelible impression on our lives. He was looked upon by Indians as one of their own. On Lal Bahadur Shastri’s 112th birth anniversary, here are few things about him and his achievements, that has made India a better country.

  • Lal Bahadur Shastri was not born with the title ‘Shastri’. Only after he graduated from Kashi Vidyapeeth, the title of Shastri (scholar) was awarded to him.
  • For the first time in India, Lal Bahadur Shastri as a Transport Minister made it possible for women to be work as conductors in transportation facilities.
  • The idea of using jets of water to disperse the crowd rather than lathi-charge was introduced by Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

  • Shastri signed an accord with the Prime minister of Sri Lankan Sirimavo Bandaranaike known as the Sirima-Shastri Pact or the Bandaranaike-Shastri Pact.
  •  According to the agreement, 600,000 Indian Tamils were to be repatriated, 375,000 were to be granted citizenship of Sri Lanka. Though, after his death, India took only 300,000 Tamils as repatriates and SriLanka granted citizenship to only 185,000 citizens.
  • His slogan during the Indo-Pak war of 1965, Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan! reverberates throughout the country, even today. He understood how important soldiers and farmers are for which he shared this slogan with the people.
  • Shastri was the one who promoted the White Revolution  in India, by supporting the Amul milk co-operative of Anand, Gujarat and also created the National Dairy Development Board.

Look for latest news from India in NewsGram.

  • During his tenure as Prime Minister, Shastri and then President of the Pakistan, Mohammed Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent (former USSR, now in modern Uzbekistan). On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Ayub Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration (agreement between India and Pakistan).
  • Shastri died in Tashkent, on that day itself after signing the Tashkent Declaration. It was reported that he died due to a heart attack, but his sudden death raised many questions in the minds of the citizens of India; people allege conspiracy behind the death and still remain a mystery.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi

 

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Kuldip Nayar says Lal Bahadur Shastri was sure of Indo-Pak peace

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New Delhi: Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist and a close associate of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, said that the former PM was confident of the peace in the subcontinent and he inked the Tashkent Accord with Pakistan on January 10 to facilitate stability in the region. Nayar stated that the reason behind the collapse of the accord was Shastri’s death next day.

“Shastri was very sagacious. He firmly believed India could make peace with Pakistan but not with China,” said Nayar in an interview, adding that it was the Prime Minister, who got the then Pakistani President Field Marshal Ayub Khan to pencil in the words “without resorting to arms” in the first draft of the Tashkent Agreement.

Under the agreement, the two countries agreed that their armies would return to the positions they held on August 5, 1965, the day they went to war for the second time after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

“Ayub Khan was inclined but (Pakistani foreign minister Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto stormed out of the negotiations, saying he would denounce the President (back) home. After Shastri died (in circumstances that are still suspect), and thanks to Bhutto, whatever had been achieved at Tashkent collapsed in Rawalpindi (then the Pakistani capital), Nayar, still sharp as a razor in spite of his 93 years and possibly the only survivor of Tashkent, noted.

Reinforcing this view, Nayar recalled Ayub Khan saying on the morning of Shastri’s death: “Here lies the man who could have brought Pakistan and India close.”

Ayub Khan, in fact, was one of the two front pall-bearers (on the left) who carried Shastri’s coffin to the aircraft that transported it to New Delhi.

Elaborating on Shastri’s sagacity, Nayar pointed to a letter, then Shah of Iran, Mohammad Raza Pahlavi, wrote to Ayub Khan in the wake of the Chinese invasion of India in 1962, asking him to send Pakistani troops to beat back the invaders.

“A copy was marked to (India’s first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought (home minister) Shastri’s comments. Don’t accept it, Shastri said because if tomorrow Pakistan asks for Kashmir (still a sticking point between the two nations on which they have fought four wars), we’ll be in a difficult situation,” Nayar contended.

Shastri had assumed office after soon after India’s first Prime Minister died on May 24, 1964, in spite of the fact that it was widely felt that Nehru wanted his daughter, Indira Gandhi to succeed him.

So how did Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan but at that time part of the undivided Soviet Union, come to be chosen as the venue of the peace negotiations?

“The Americans stepped in (after the 1965 war ended) but Shastri said ‘No. They have given them (Pakistan) arms. We can’t trust them. The Soviets stepped in; they said, come to Tashkent, known for its kababs and good food. Shastri was a strict vegetarian, but he said, let’s go.”

Though, military cooperation between India and the Soviet Union had begun soon after the 1962 war with China, this took a quantum leap soon after the Tashkent Accord and today, India imports almost 70 percent of its armaments from Russia, the successor state after the collapse of the Cold War superpower.

Nayar also said there was much bonhomie between the Indian and Pakistani delegations, as also between the journalists of the two countries who were reporting on the talks.

“We (the journalists) were staying in the same hotel. Bahut milna julna tha. Saath khate peete the (There was much camadaraderia. We used to eat and drink together. After Shastri’s death, all of them came to sympathize with us). The next morning, even people on the street came to sympathize with us,” Nayar recalled.

As for the circumstances of Shastri’s death hours after the Tashkent Accord was signed, Nayar said: “There is a general perception that he was poisoned, there should be an enquiry, even though a long time has elapsed.

The government says there are certain papers whatever papers there are make them public.”

Speaking about the future of India-Pakistan ties, Nayar saw great hope. “There are fringe elements (as evidenced in the attack on the Pathankot IAF air base soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic visit to Lahore via Kaul after a state visit to Moscow), but everyone realises that peace must prevail,” he said.

“Had people like Lal Bahadur Shastri been around, all this would not have happened,” Nayar concluded.(Vishnu Makhijani, IANS)(Image:eastcoastdaily.in)

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Netaji files: It’s time to frame declassification policy

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New Delhi: Many questions regarding the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1945 may finally be put to rest starting January 23, 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday posted a series of tweets, in which he revealed that his government will start the declassification of files related to Netaji on 23th January, 2016 on the occasion of his birth anniversary. The Modi government will further request various foreign governments to declassify files related to Netaji. The announcement came shortly after Modi’s meeting with the extended family of Netaji Bose.

Modi tweeted:

The issue of Netaji’s disappearance has been hanging since 7 decades and successive governments had maintained that Netaji had died in the air-crash in 1945. The present decision will earn the government enormous goodwill and respect from thousands of people across the country who were eagerly waiting for this declassification to happen.

By this announcement, Modi has not only shown his respect for National heroes, but also his commitment to bring forward the records of Indian history into the public domain. Contrary to the attitudes of presiding governments that has continued to keep important documents classified even after many decades, Modi government has demonstrated its commitment to come clean on history.

The government must now build upon this and should begin declassification of other important files. This is very important not only for setting the records of history straight, but also to set an example for future governments to follow.

Whitewashing of history has already done enough damage to the nation.

As Modi notes in his tweet: “There is no need to strangle history,” it is time for the government to take bold decision to declassify other classified files dealing with important but controversial issues.

One issue that has been hanging for many decades is the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri had gone to Tashkent, USSR in January 1966 to sign the peace agreement with Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan that would officially bring an end to the India-Pakistan war.

Just after a day he signed the Tashkent Declaration, he was reported dead at 2 AM on January 11, 1966. The death has been reported to have been due to heart attack. But, no proper account of the incident has been made public. It has been often alleged that Shastri was poisoned and his body had turned blue. It is further pointed that no post mortem of his body was done either in Russia or in India.

The similarities between the death of Shastri and disappearance of Bose are many. First, they both were very popular Indian leaders. Secondly, in both cases, the government has re-iterated its version of events without giving any details or releasing any documents related to it. Thirdly, in both cases, repeated attempts at finding information about the deaths have been rejected.

Anuj Dhar, who has relentlessly strived for finding out information about Netaji and whose efforts have finally begun bearing fruits with the Modi government declaring that it would declassify the files, had also filed an RTI query in 2009 regarding Shastri. The RTI had sought the correspondences between India and Moscow as well as those between the Indian embassy in Moscow and the external affairs ministry after Shastri’s death. But the Prime Minister’s Office had turned down the RTI request by saying that the information will affect ‘security, integrity, and sovereignty of the country.’

Another incidence that adds to the claims of the conspiracy was the death of Shastri’s doctor RN Chugh and memory loss of Ram Nath, Shastri’s personal servant. Both of them met with an accident when they were on their way to depose before parliamentary body in 1977 about the death of Shastri.

Shastri’s family has repeatedly made appeals for declassification of the related documents. Just last month, Anil Shastri, the son of former prime minister appealed to Modi government to declassify. Modi government should listen to those appeals as well and initiate declassification of those files as well.

Another leader who died under mysterious circumstances was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who died as a detenu in Kashmir in 1953. Recently, the family members of Bhagat Singh had also appealed to the Center to declassify files related to him.

Then, there is the Vohra report on the criminalization of politics that was submitted in 1993, the Henderson-Brooks Report that analyzes India’s debacle in 1962 India-China War, and many classified files related to Naval Mutiny of 1946 and other aspects of freedom movement, that are yet to see the light.

Calling for declassification of all such files, Indian academic and writer, Madhu Kishwar tweeted yesterday:

Modi government should form a committee that includes members from intelligence, legal fraternity, historians, and experts from other concerned areas to review all these old files and declassify them in a phased manner. The government should further bring out a declassification policy similar to those in the US or UK so that the declassification of files does not become an issue in future.

UK declassifies its files after 20 years. US follows 10 years declassification. It further has a 25-year review that reviews and declassifies those files that were not declassified at 10 years. In Australia, federal documents are declassified at 20 years and cabinet notes at 30 years. India should formulate its own policy on similar lines.

Modi government has taken a welcome step in deciding to declassify Netaji files. But, this declassification should not be its last. The government should genuinely pursue the issue of declassification and legislate laws for automatic declassification after a fixed number of years. Only this would make India a truly information-rich country, wherein its people can easily access documents related to its recent history.