LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI
“Lal Bahadur Shastri was born near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. He served as Prime Minister of India from 1964 to 1966. A follower of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, he was imprisoned several times by the British for nationalist activities. When India achieved independence (1947), he became a minister in the State Government of Uttar Pradesh, and he later served in the federal cabinet as minister of transport (1952-1956), industry (1957-1961) and home affairs (1961-1963). Shastri became Prime Minister on the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. The principal event of his tenure was the undeclared war with Pakistan over the Rann of Kutch that began in April 1965 and subsequently spread to Kashmir. He died immediately after signing a Soviet-mediated ‘no-war’ agreement with Pakistan in Tashkent, USSR, in January 1966.”
Lal Bahadur Shastri (born 1904) succeeded Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister of India in 1964. Though eclipsed by such stalwarts of the Congress Party as Kamaraj and Morarji Desai, Finance Minister in Nehru’s government, Shastri emerged as the only consensus candidate in the midst of party warfare. He had not been in power long before the undeclared war that broke with Pakistan along the Rann of Kutch, and though a cease-fire under the auspices of the United Nations put a temporary halt to the fighting, the scene of conflict soon shifted to the more troubled spot of Kashmir. While Pakistan claimed that a spontaneous uprising against the Indian occupation of Kashmir had taken place, India charged Pakistan with fomenting sedition inside its territory and sending armed raiders into Jammu and Kashmir from Azad Kashmir. Shastri promised to meet force with force and by early September the second Indo-Pakistan war had commenced.
Though the Indian army reached the outskirts of Lahore, Shastri agreed to withdraw Indian forces. He had always been identified with the interests of the working class and peasants since the days of his involvement with the freedom struggle and now his popularity boomed. But his triumph was short-lived, invited in January 1966 by the Russian Premier, Aleksei Kosygin, to Tashkent for a summit with General Muhammad Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan and commander of the Pakistan armed forces, Shastri suffered a fatal heart attack hours after signing a treaty where India and Pakistan had agreed not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs and not to have recourse to force and to settle their disputes through peaceful means. Shastri’s body was brought back to India and a memorial not far from the national memorial to Mahatma Gandhi was built to honour him. It says, in fitting testimony to Shastri,
‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ (‘Salute the Soldier, Salute the Farmer’).
He was a true son of the motherland, did never aspire anything for himself and really believed in ‘Simple living High thinking’, like a true patriot.