Received stepmotherly treatment from successive governments: Shastri’s family

By Brajendra Nath Singh

New Delhi: Demanding that the files on the mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri be de-classifed on the lines of those relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the family of the India’s second prime minister, widely admired as a “son of the soil”, says it been treated in a step-motherly manner by successive governments at the centre.

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“The de-classification of files pertaining to the fate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose after a plane crash has begun but there is no indication from the government on the files related to Shastriji’s death. This is injustice to him. Why this step-motherly treatment of Shastriji,” his eldest son, Anil Shastri, asked while speaking to IANS.

The demand came on Shastri’s 50th death anniversary on Monday.

“Before becoming the prime minister, Narendra Modi used to say at his election rallies that successive Congress governments did Shastriji injustice, but what now? Even he has done nothing for Shastriji,” the Anil Shastri, 67, lamented.

The ruling BJP had long been demanding that the air be cleared over Shastri’s death in Tashkent, hours after sighing on Jan 10, 1966 the historic Tashkent Agreement with Pakistani president Field Marshal Ayub Khan restoring the status quo as it existed before the start of the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

“Now that they are in power, they should come forward and do everything needed,” Anil Shastri maintained.

“Forget about declassification of files. Even this government did not start a single scheme in him name. Neither a building nor a university and not even a road was named in his memory. At least they could have started something new like a coin or award on his famous ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ slogn, he added.

(For the record, the National Academy of Administration in Musoorie, now in Uttarakhand, which trains rookies for a career in the civil services, was named after Lal Bahadur Shastri after his demise.)

The junior Shastri also said that it was due to government’s cold approach that the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Museum in central Delhi – the house the late prime minister occupied – is not in a “good” condition as are the memorials of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

(Ironically, this house shares a boundary wall with 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress presidnet Sonia Gandhi.)

“Our step-motherly treatment by successive governments is continuing. I have have been demanding a parking place around the museum but government never allows this citing security reasons, Anil Shastri said.

“There is parking place in front of memorials of Gandhiji, Nehruji and Indiraji. But why this treatment with Shastriji only? I have written more than three letters to (Home Minister) Rajnath Singh but he too could not find a solution,” he added.

The former union minister and a member of Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, said not only the family, but the entire country wants to know the truth behind Shastri’s death.

“My mother always believed that Shastriji was murdered. When his body came, she was not in a mental condition to say anything. The government also did not demand a post-mortem of his body. This raised our doubts. These doubts must be cleared. The country wants to know the truth,” he said.

Echoing this was Sidharth Nath Singh, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson.

“The Congress never gave due respect to the leaders who were from outside the Gandhi-Nehru family. They didn’t even gave the due respect to Sardar Patel and Shastriji. It’s very unfortunate. We have lots of hope from Modi government. This government will certainly do something to declassify the files pertianing to Shastriji’s death,” Singh told IANS.

“We, the family members, will soon sit together and try to find out how to proceed further on this matter,” Singh, a BJP leader added.