The Tashkent Files: Here’s all you need to know about the mysterious death of Dr Lal Bahadur Shastri

Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is all set for his next directorial titled The Tashkent Files. The film is set against the backdrop of the mysterious death of Dr Lal Bahadur Shastri who was the second Prime Minister of India. Vivek had announced the film in the month of January this year by tweeting, “On this day, 10th Jan 1966, in Tashkent a tiny man called Lal Bahadur Shashtri who won a war with Pakistan, soon after a humiliating defeat with China, signed the Tashkent treaty. Hours later he died. A death mystery unsolved till date.

The Tashkent Files stars Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Shweta Basu, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak, Mandira Bedi and Pallavi Joshi in the lead roles. It’s slated to release on April 12, 2019.

1. Was it a heart attack?

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.

2. Was Shastri poisoned?

However, many believed that Shastri didn’t die of a heart attack, but he was poisoned. Kuldip Nayar, in his column for Outlook India magazine, wrote, “When I returned from Tashkent, Lalita Shastri asked me why Shastri’s body had turned blue. I replied: “I am told that when bodies are embalmed, they turn blue.” She then inquired about “certain cuts” on Shastri’s body. I did not know about those because I had not seen the body. Even so, her remark that no post-mortem had been conducted either at Tashkent or Delhi startled me. It was indeed unusual. Apparently, she and others in the family suspected foul play. A few days later, I heard that Lalita Shastri was angry with the two personal assistants who had accompanied Shastri because they had refused to sign a statement which alleged that Shastri did not die a natural death.”

3. Shastri family was convinced that he had been poisoned…

Kuldip Nayar also gave out details about the aftermath of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death. He revealed that Shastri’s family members were convinced there was a foul play in his death.He wrote, “As days passed, the Shastri family became increasingly convinced that he had been poisoned. In 1970, on October 2 (Shastri’s birthday), Lalita Shastri asked for a probe into her husband’s death. The family seemed to be upset that Jan Mohammed, T.N. Kaul’s cook at the time, had cooked the food, not Ram Nath, his own personal servant. This was strange as the same Jan Mohammed had prepared food for Shastri when he visited Moscow in 1965.”

Nayar further wrote about how after many years, he asked Morarji Desai about his take on Shastri’s death. Nayar wrote, “Following newspaper reports, the old guard Congress party supported the demand for a probe into Shastri’s death. I asked Morarji Desai towards the end of October 1970 whether he really believed that Shastri did not die a natural death. Desai said: “That is all politics. I am sure there was no foul play. He died of a heart attack. I have checked with the doctor and his secretary, C.P. Srivastava, who accompanied him to Tashkent.””