Generations have gone by, but conspiracy theories about what caused Shastri’s death have not ceased. In some other country, the strange case such as that of a prime minister’s death would have been inquired into by a high-power team long ago and all relevant documents placed in the public domain. The recent movie, Tashkent Files, throws light on the issue which requires a long-due investigation.
Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away on January 11, 1966. He was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he signed the peace agreement between India and Pakistan named The Tashkent Declaration. After signing the treaty, Shastri mysteriously passed away in Tashkent. It was said that he passed away due to a heart attack.
1. The KGB suspected poisoning
At 4 am, Ahmed Sattarov, the Russian butler attached to Shastri, was rudely woken up by an officer of the Ninth Directorate of the KGB (responsible for the safety of VIPs). In Sattarov’s own words, the KGB officer said that they “suspected the Indian prime minister had been poisoned”.
Sattarov was handcuffed and, along with three junior butlers, was rounded off to a location 30km away. Their harsh interrogation commenced in a dungeon. After some time, Jan Mohammad was brought in. In Sattarov’s words again: “We thought that it must have been that man who poisoned Shastri.”
2. Shastri’s near and dear ones see a needle of suspicion pointing towards an insider’s hand
When Shastri’s body was brought to Delhi, no one had any clue about what the KGB was suspecting. But seeing strange blue patches on Shastri’s body, his mother screamed that someone had poisoned her son. The old woman’s wail continues to haunt the Shastri family to date.
Shastri’s wife Lalita died thinking that her husband had been poisoned. Other family members and near and dear ones, like childhood friend TN Singh and close follower Jagdish Kodesia, were not able to make sense of the cut marks on Shastri’s stomach and back of the neck.
3. No post-mortem was carried out on Shastri’s body
The only sure-shot way to find out whether or not Shastriji was poisoned was to carry out a post-mortem on his body. The family demanded it. But the demand was not accepted. Interim prime minister Gulzarilal Nanda was to, later on, feign ignorance about Shastri’s family approaching him with the demand.