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Foul play in Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death, release related files: Son

Claiming that former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died in Tashkent after signing a peace pact with Pakistan, could have been murdered, his son Anil Shastri on Saturday demanded a thorough probe into the incident and that all related files be declassified.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2015 01:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Lal Bahadur Shastri,Shastri death,Shastri death files
The former PM’s relatives have repeatedly demanded old files pertaining to his death be declassified.(File Photo)

The family of Lal Bahadur Shastri on Saturday demanded de-classification of all documents related to him saying the former prime minister could have been murdered.

“I do urge the Indian prime minister to release the documents. Not a bad idea to have an inquiry into his death, question all remaining witnesses and clear all speculation and at least establish the negligence,” his son Anil Shastri, a Congress leader, told a news channel in an interview.

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

The demand comes close on the heels of West Bengal government declassifying files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

“When his body came to the Palam airport, we found that the body had turned blue and there were white spots on his temple. The moment my mother saw the body she knew it was not a natural death. She told us it was a murder, there was out and out foul play,” Shastri told CNN-IBN.

Shastri pointed out different loopholes in the Indian government’s handling of his father’s death. “I think the death was not taken as seriously as it should have been,” he said.

The Congress leader also alleged that Lal Bahadur’s associates feel that “suspicion revolves around an Indian hand or a foreign power”.

Shastri wants that documents related to his father’s death to be taken out, echoing similar demands raised by parties like Trinamool or BJD who demand disclosure of 160 files on Netaji.

“I do urge the Indian PM to release these documents. Not a bad idea to have an inquiry into his death, question all remaining witnesses and clear all speculation and at least establish the negligence,” he said.

He said no post-mortem was carried out on the body, which could reveal the exact cause of death.

“There was a butler who was arrested and released. My mother wanted to meet him when she went to Tashkent. But she was told he could not be traced,” Shastri said.

He also said that it was “very shocking that both his personal physician RN Chugh and personal assistant met with accidents. Both had to depose before inquiry commissions. Coincidence twice is a little improbable.”

Anil Shastri said his father’s personal diary was never found. “He jotted down notes daily in it. It could have mentioned Tashkent Agreement. Even the thermos next to him was never brought back. His death could have been from something in the thermos flask,” he added.

Another son of the former PM, Sunil Shastri, a BJP leader, also said that he has been requesting several prime ministers in the past to de-classify files pertaining to his father. Naming a few, he said he approached Chandra Shekhar, IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh but he was not given any answers.

First Published: Sep 26, 2015 19:46 IST