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Rediff News  All News  » News » De-mystify Shastri's death, BJP tells government

De-mystify Shastri's death, BJP tells government

July 31, 2009 16:35 IST
Siddharth Nath Singh was two years old when his legendary grandfather Lal Bahadur Shastri's body was flown in from Tashkent to New Delhi on a cold morning of January 1966. The sudden death of India's second prime minister in the Soviet city, where he had gone to talk peace with Pakistani leader Muhammad Ayub Khan on January 11, had plunged the country into grief.

However, for his grandmother, Lalita Shastri, the sight of her husband's bloated body that had turned blue, was an unbearable sight. She suspected her husband had been poisoned and asked for a post-mortem, which was never done. Even today, the mystery of Shastri's death in a cold war era continues to haunt the family as well as people across the country.

So, for Singh, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, meeting President Pratibha Patil along with his colleagues on Friday on this issue was "an effort to fulfil the wish of his grandmother who wanted the country to know how her husband had died."

"My grandmother had always felt that her husband was poisoned and he had died an unnatural death. Knowing the truth means a lot to our family," he told Business Standard.

The BJP leaders have asked Patil's intervention to make the government to de-classify all the information and documents related to Shastri's death, at least after 43 years.

The provocation for this is a recent admission by the government that it could not furnish detailed information about Shastriji's death. Responding to a petition filed under the Right to Information Act, the government has invoked Section 8 (1) a of the Act, which empowers it to deny furnishing information on the basis that it would  harm foreign relations or lead to incitement of an offence.

The BJP leaders, who gave a petition to the President, have asked why the government could not openly reveal the circumstances of a prime minister's death in a foreign country and the details of the official communication between the two governments.

For example, they have asked for the medical report prepared jointly by Dr R N Chug, doctor in attendance to the prime minister in Tashkent, and senior Soviet doctors.

It says that while USSR authorities had arrested Sarrarov, a butler, who had attended the Indian prime minister, on suspicion of poisoning the food, the government of Indian was mum on whether it had independently investigated butler's role. The butler was released later.

Also the BJP has asked the government to release the correspondence between the ministry of external affairs and the then Indian ambassador in Moscow T N Kaul regarding Shastri's death.

Aasha Khosa