While the entire nation celebrates the 2nd October as “Gandhi Jayanti,” many among the younger generation may not know that today also happens to be the anniversary of Lal Bahadur Shastriji. The second Prime Minister of India had brought many changes which made India what it is today. During the tenure of 18 months, Lal Bahadur Shastri took several key decisions and left a memorable imprint on every Indian before his suspicious death in Russia.
The Remarkable Work
The Indian agricultural sector was in crisis when he took office and the nation was largely dependant on the imports from the US. Indian had imported 15 million tonnes of grains from the US between 1960 and 1963 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister. The slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan” was given by Shastri to reiterate the fact that farmers were equally important to the nation as the soldiers. He appointed C. Subramanian as the food and agricultural minister and took key policy decisions that lead to the Green Revolution and White Revolution.
Even though his tenure as the PM was short, he faced some of the toughest challenges. Pakistan was enthusiastic after India’s defeat in 1962 against China and hoped that it could repeat the outcome in 1965. Notably, America had provided aid to Pakistan ensuring that they had modern weapons, whereas India was still using comparatively outdated weapons. Pakistani Field Marshal Ayub Khan assumed that a short dhoti-clad vegetarian would not be able to withstand War. However, Lal Bahadur Shastri turned-out to be a war hero who though two steps ahead of the enemy.
So, while Pakistan began assault in different regions from the Rann of Kutch to Jammu Kashmir, Shastri gave a go-ahead to Indian army to launch an attack towards Lahore. Shastri’s leadership and key decisions ensured that India had captured the strategic Haji Pir Pass in Kashmir. When the war ended on September 23, Pakistan was left with a few regions in Rajasthan, whereas India had captured vital areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Mysterious Death
Lal Bahadur Shastri is the only Indian Prime Minister to have died on foreign land while in office. He was in the Soviet Union at the behest of the Russians to sign a peace agreement with Pakistan. The cold war was at its peak and the Soviet Union wanted to ensure that Pakistan would come to its side. The mystery surrounding his death remains decades after his passing. Some reports suggest that he was against the signing of the Tashkent Accord, but had suddenly agreed to it. What circumstances led to this change still remain a mystery.
The Russian spy agency KGB suspected that he was poisoned and had taken the butlers into custody for questioning. Shastri’s near and dear ones suspected insider’s hand in the alleged poisoning and mysterious death. One of the most mysterious decision was that no post-mortem was carried out on the body. However, his wife had noted that Shastriji’s body had white & blue spots and cut marks on his stomach. Was his stomach washed inside-out to destroy traces of poison?
The doctor who had attended Lal Bahadur Shastri on that fateful night was run over by a truck in 1977. His wife and two sons also lost their lives in the incident. Shastri’s personal attendant Ram Nath also died in an accident under mysterious circumstances. Certainly, there must by several classified records about Shastri’s death and the investigation that followed both in Russia and India. Perhaps, today on his birthday the government could give the gift of truth to the entire nation.