All classified records pertaining to former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death should be placed before the prime minister and home minister to take a call on their declassification, the Central Information Commission has ruled.
The directives were issued to the central public information officers of the Prime Minister’s Office, external affairs ministry and home ministry on the plea of an RTI applicant seeking to know if autopsy was done on Shastri, who died on January 11, 1966 in Tashkent in the erstwhile Soviet Union. “The Commission directs… to place all those so-called ‘classified papers’ before the prime minister and the home minister, who are recommended to consider the fundamental right to know and demand of the people… to declassify (the records) either through an expert committee or by any other process to get the mystery probed and resolved,” information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
Shastri had died in Tashkent hours after signing a ceasefire declaration with Pakistan President Muhammad Ayub Khan during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, with talks between the two moderated by Alexei Kosygin, the then Soviet prime minister.
“In view of the startling incidents that followed the mysterious death, such as killing of his personal doctor and assistant in two separate ‘accidents’, disappearance of records of Rajya Sabha Committee’s probe, and various significant points raised by journalists… Shastri’s wife Lalitha, other family members, the Commission is of opinion that the Union government has a duty to explain the nation why and how Lal Bahadur Shastri died in Tashkent,” he said.