48 years on, mystery behind Lal Bahadur Shastri's death continues
The second Indian prime minister had set new standards of morality by owing moral responsibility to a railway accident in Mahbubnagar in 1956 and resigning as the Railway Minister.
Lal Bahadur Shashtri died due to cardiac arrest under suspicious circumstances in Tashkent in 1966 giving rise to reports of a deep-rooted conspiracy and mystery still surrounds his death.
After the 1965 war with Pakistan, Shastri went to Tashkent to meet Pakistani president Mohammad Ayub Khan. On January 11, 1966, a day after signing Tashkent declaration, he died under mysterious circumstances.
After Shastri's death his wife Lalita Shastri had alleged he was poisoned and demanded an enquiry.
As per reports, no post-mortem was conducted on the body of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri to know the causes of his mysterious death in Tashkent.
But, dark blue spots and cut marks on the abdomen of Lal Bahadur's body after his death raised doubts and his son Sunil has asked how the cut marks appeared on his body if a post-mortem had not been conducted.
A query was later posed by Anuj Dhar, author of CIA's Eye on South Asia, under the Right to Information Act related to Shastri's death, but the Prime Minister's Office refused to oblige. The office said that, "citing that this could lead to harming of foreign relations, cause disruption in the country and cause breach of parliamentary privileges."
Another RTI plea by Kuldip Nayar, Shastriji's media advisor from 1960 to 1964, was also declined, as PMO cited exemption from disclosure on the plea.
As per reports, so far, the home ministry has not responded to queries whether India conducted a post-mortem on Shastri, and if the government had investigated allegations of foul play. But some reports also say that the Ministry of External Affairs has already said no post-mortem was conducted in USSR.
It sent rest of the questions to Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry to answer.
Even the Delhi Police in its reply to an RTI application said that it does not have any record pertaining to the death of the former prime minister.
The Central Public Information Officer of the Delhi Police in his reply dated July 29, 2009 said, "no such record related to the death of the former prime minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri is available in this district... Hence the requisite information pertaining to New Delhi District may please be treated as Nil."
The MEA said the only document from the erstwhile Soviet Government is "the report of the Joint Medical Investigation conducted by a team comprising Dr R N Chugh, Doctor in-Attendance to the PM and some Russian doctors" and added no post-mortem was conducted in the USSR.
Later, to everyone's surprise, the Home Ministry referred the matter to Delhi Police and National Archives for the response pertaining to any post-mortem conducted on the body of Shastri in India.
Hand of Moscow behind Shastri's death?
A 2013 Russia and India report had said, "Proponents see the "hand of Moscow" in the incident. The USSR was allegedly unhappy with Nehru's policy of non-alignment, which Lal Bahadur Shastri consistently adhered to, and intended to bring more loyal forces to power in India."
Despite so many RTI's and requests, the Government of India did not reveal anything and maintained that the reason behind Shastri's death was the heart attack.
Even after 48 years of death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the mystery behind his death remains unsolved.