Shastri’s post-mortem

Last Updated: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 09:17

New Delhi: Was any post-mortem conducted on the body of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to know the causes of his mysterious death in Tashkent, in the
erstwhile USSR, in 1966?

The Delhi Police in its reply to an RTI application has said it does not have any record pertaining to the death of the former prime minister.

The Ministry of External Affairs has already said no
post-mortem was conducted in USSR.

The Central Public Information Officer of the Delhi
Police in his reply dated July 29, 2009 said, "No such record
related to the death of the former prime minister of India
Lal Bahadur Shastri is available in this district... Hence the
requisite information pertaining to New Delhi District may
please be treated as Nil."

Author of the book `CIA`s Eye on South Asia`, Anuj Dhar
had filed an RTI application, carrying eight questions, with
the Prime Minister`s Office.

In one of his questions, Dhar asked if any post-mortem
was conducted on former prime minister`s body in India to
ascertain causes of his death and if not, the reasons thereof.

After the 1965 war with Pakistan, Shastri went to
Tashkent to meet Pakistani President Mohammad Ayub Khan. On
January 11, 1966, a day after signing Tashkent declaration, he
died under mysterious circumstances.

His wife Lalita Shastri had alleged foul play and
demanded a post-mortem to know the causes of his death.

The PMO answered only two questions of the RTI
application saying it has only one classified document
pertaining to the death of Shastri which is exempted from
disclosure under the RTI Act. It sent rest of the questions to
Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry to answer.

The MEA said only document from the erstwhile Soviet
Government is "the report of the Joint Medical Investigation
conducted by a team comprising Dr RN Chugh, Doctor
in-Attendance to the PM and some Russian doctors" and added no
post-mortem was conducted in the USSR.

The Home Ministry referred the matter to Delhi Police and
National Archives for the response pertaining to any
post-mortem conducted on the body of Shastri in India.

Sunil Shastri, son of the former prime minister, called
the transferring of application as "absurd" and "silly joke".

"He (Lal Bahadur Shastri) died as sitting prime minister.
It sounds very silly that MHA is referring the matter of death
of second prime minister of India to a district level police.

"It should be looked into by highest authorities like
President, Prime Minister and Home Minister."

Dhar said, "The Government of India seems to have knack
for fermenting unwarranted mysteries. Nearly 44 years after
Shastri passed away in the erstwhile USSR, the PMO has refused
to declassify a report throwing light on how its former boss
died."

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 3, 2009 - 09:17

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