LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI- THE FORGOTTEN HERO!

Disclaimer: The article has assembled prevailing conspiracy theories around the suspicion-laden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri. We do not endorse or support these theories.

The whole nation celebrates Gandhi Jayanti with zeal and a patriotic fervour, paying homage to the Father of the Nation. However many people are unaware, that our Second Prime Minister- Lal Bahadur Shastri shared his birthday with his idol ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. Today, on the 112nd birth anniversary of Shastri Ji- known for his humility, honesty and morally elevated spectrum of thoughts; TCF wishes to bring alive the reminiscence of the forgotten hero of Modern India!

Born in a Kayastha family, Shastri became a Satyagrahi at a young age. Post Independence, he joined the first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru’s government and became one of his principal, first as Railway Minister (1951-56) and later as Minister of Home Affairs & External Affairs.

Sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on 9th June 1964, he filled the void created by the sudden demise of Nehru Ji. Relatively new to the high office, he led the country successfully through Indo-Pakistan War in 1965. His slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan‘, still reverberates through the hearts of true patriots. He recognized the need for self-sustenance and self-reliance as the pillars to build a strong nation and wished to be remembered by his work rather than lofty promises!

Here are some unknown facts about the man, of exceptional willpower, belied by his small frail stature and soft-spoken manner.

His Mother had Lost him as a Child!

Shastri Ji was 3 months old when his mother had lost him while taking bath in the Ganges. Following an FIR, a childless cowherd unwillingly reinstated the baby to the distressed mother!

1964 India's Lal Bahadur Shastri Family Press Photo
Lal Bahadur Shastri’s Family. Source: eBay

 

His Real Name was Lal Bahadur ‘Verma’!

An enthusiastic Satyagrahi and an unwavering Secularist, he defied the caste system by shunning his caste derived surname – ‘Verma‘. In 1925, the title of ‘Shastri‘ was given to him after the completion of his graduation at Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi.

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He was Broke when he died!

As the member and later president of the Lok Seva Mandal, he abnegated the accumulation of private property and died with an old car which he had bought in installments from the government, for which he still owed money.  As elucidated by Kuldip Nayar, his media advisor, during the Quit India Movement. He was out on parole and watched the illness as it engulfed his daughter, for he could not afford the costly medicines.

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Image source-Jitesh Trapasiya

 

The pioneer of Women Conductors and Water-Jets!

Designated as the Minister of Police and Transport under Govind Ballabh Pant’s Chief Ministership on 15 August 1947, he was the first to appoint women conductors. As the minister in charge of the Police Department, he ordered that police use jets of water instead of lathis to disperse unruly crowds. His tenure as police minister saw efficacious curbing of communal riots in 1947, refugee resettlement and mass migration.

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Promoted the White & Green Revolution:

Discontinuing Nehru’s socialist economic policies, he promoted the White Revolution – a national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk – by supporting the Amul Milk Cooperative and creating National Dairy development board. Accentuating the need to boost food production, Shastri also promoted the Green Revolution. The Food Corporation of India was set up under the Food Corporation’s Act 1964 and The National Agricultural Products Board Act.

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The Shastri Vrat :

Owing to the food crisis, Lal Bahadur Shastri urged his countrymen to observe fast once a week, so that the saved food could be fed to the hungry populace. But before going on air about the matter, he sought the implementation of the same at his home. The response was overwhelming as many eateries and restaurants lowered their shutters on Monday evenings, observing the Shastri Vrat! He encouraged growing of crops by cultivating his lawn at the Official Delhi residence.

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Image Source- Siliconeer

 

His Death Shrouded in Mystery and Conspiracy!

We lost our dynamic and eloquent hero in the wee hours of 11th January 1966 after he signed the Tashkent Declaration with Pakistan.

Source- News Nation Bureau
Tashkent Declaration. Image Source- News Nation Bureau

The unfortunate demise of this forgotten hero came with a grave consequence as his family still never found out what actually happened on that fateful night.  The doctors certified that he subjugated his final breaths to a cardiac arrest. However, the suspicious ambiguities posed by the state’s secrecy have raised many questions and given birth to conspiracy theories! In his final moments, Shastri cried and said- ‘babu ji you did not give me enough time’, remembered Ram and closed his eyes forever.

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  1. The first inquiry about the incumbent Prime Minister’s death, Raj Narain inquiry never came to conclusions and has no existing archives in the Parliament’s archives.
  2. It was alleged that no post-mortem was done on Shastri, but the Indian government in 2009, claimed it did have a report of a medical investigation conducted by Shastri’s doctor and that no documents were destroyed.
  3. The dark blue spots and cut near the abdomen and back of the neck signified that Post Mortem was carried out. His wife died thinking her husband had been poisoned but the PMO did nothing to wipe the wailing tears
  4. The two witnesses, Dr RN Chugh and Ram Nath were killed in an accident before they could testify before the Parliamentary committee in 1977.
  5. To convict someone of a crime, you need to establish three things: motive, means (ability to commit the crime), and opportunity. CIA known for its notorious agenda to remove any threats to America from the face of the earth had all the three aforementioned weapons to poison Shastri using a double Russian Agent. In his interview with Gregory Douglas, a journalist, CIA operative Robert Crowley,  confirmed how the CIA had killed Dr Homi Bhabha, one of India ‘s greatest ever scientist, and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. As Shastri wanted to go ahead with nuclear tests, the US got wary of India emerging as a reformed state and also of Indo-Russian dominance in the region.Douglas published a book called Conversations with the Crow based on the telephone conversations he had.

 

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Image Source- News Nation Bureau

The Man with a heart of Gold and a dream of a self-sufficient India deserves an honourable commemoration and a permanent place in the hearts of every ‘Bhartiya‘!

                                                                         ! Jai Hind !