Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri served as the 2nd Prime Minister of India from 1964-66. He was very keen on liberating India from the clutches of the British Raj. He was a visionary wanting an egalitarian and poverty-free society. His untimely demise was a blow to the nation. However, what was the reason behind the mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri? This blog is about The Enigma Of Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji’s Death, his life and his legacy.
He was born on 2nd October 1904 in Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh, to Ramdulari Devi and Sharda Prasad Srivastava. When he was a teenager, Lal Bahadur Shastri left his studies to join the ‘Non-Cooperation Movement’. Despite belonging to a higher caste, Lal Bahadur Shastri, in his step towards equal rights for Harijans, dropped his privileged surname of ‘Srivastava’. In 1926, he was honoured with the title ‘Shastri’ by Kashi Vidyapeeth University as a mark of his scholarly success in Ethics and Philosophy.
Undoubtedly, Shastri Ji was India’s most honest and selfless Prime Minister. And Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji’s death was a blow to the nation.
One famous instance about him is, when his son used the government car, Shastri Ji paid its charges to the government account and reprimanded his son for using government power and resources for his personal use.
“JAI JAWAN-JAI KISAN”
Instead of sitting and working in an office, Lal Bahadur Shastri chose to work on the ground. He embarked on his journey of making India great by promoting the ‘White Revolution’. Under his leadership, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) or the Amul Dairy Co-operation came to life in 1965. Since then, India has come a long way from being a milk-deficient nation to becoming the world’s largest producer of milk, surpassing the USA in 1998 and as of 2010-2011, India accounted for 17% of the global output in milk production. The credit of this goes to us the then Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Shastri Ji’s tenure as a PM saw an increase in food shortage and famine. To ensure minimum impact on the lives of those hit by famine, India imported ten million tonnes of food. Moreover, to curb the demand for food, he started eating only once in a day and appealed for a one-day fast every week. This initiative of him was welcomed by the citizens who gave it the name- ‘’SHASTRI-VRAT’’. The White Revolution showed its miracle when Shastri Ji shifted his focus towards food production, determined to make India a food surplus country by supporting the “Green Revolution”. Certainly, with the positive results in front of our eyes, all the gratitude goes to the former Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Shastri ji was a battle-hardened man but was unaware of what was about to come. Besides the famine and poverty, Pakistan launched an attack on India by crossing LoC on 5th August 1965. The attack was foreseeable, despite being sudden and abrupt because there had been skirmishes since April in that year. Shastri Ji himself, a follower of Gandhian principle, kept on his peaceful mindset and went to meet the mighty Indian soldiers. He gave a free hand to deal with the infiltrators.
By the end of the war, on 23rd September 1965, the Indian soldiers had captured 1,920 square kilometres of Pakistani territory and had hunted down 5,800 Pakistani soldiers. Due to the provisions of the Charter passed by the UN on 22nd September 1965, which stated unconditional ceasefire by both the countries, and other external powers with growing international pressure, both the warring countries agreed to ceasefire on 23rd September 1965.
However, Indian Army infiltrated Lahore by 8–11 September 1965, thereby, breaking the dream bulwark created by Pakistan.
The Inspiring Leader
Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistan President Muhammad Ayub Khan were invited to sign a peace agreement called the “Tashkent Declaration” mediated by USSR. The meeting was held in Tashkent in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union (now Uzbekistan). The meeting lasted for around 6 days (4th January 1966-10th January 1966) and was finally signed on 10th January 1966. The conference stated that India and Pakistan would return to status quo ante Bellum (the situation as it existed before the war) by returning the captured area to each other.
However, 11th January 1966, the day after Shastri ji had signed the treaty, proved to be a black day for the people of India. The motherland lost a loving and obedient son. The poor lost their messiah when the Prime Minister of India died on the night of 11th January 1966. The reason given for his death was ‘cardiac-arrest’. But is this reason true or not?
Let us talk and discuss the reasons which give birth to the speculations about the death of Lal Bhadur Shastri Ji in the next blog of this series – The Enigma Of Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji’s Death – Part 2