He coined the much popular slogan 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' and was an active revolutionary during the Indian Independence Movement. There are various doubts and suspicions surrounding his death and the issue flared up again after his family demanded declassification of the secret files containing information about his death.

On his 111th birth anniversary, we bring you five facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri which you should know:

1. The title 'Shastri' was awarded to him: The braveheart decided to drop his surname 'Verma' as he strictly opposed caste system. It was during 1926, when he graduated from Kashi Vidyapeeth, that he was awarded the title of 'Shastri' (scholar).


2. He followed the Nehruvian socialist structure to run the country: Shastri's main inspiration was Mahatma Gandhi and it was mainly due to his influence that Shastri joined the freedom struggle. Later, when he became the Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru's death, he adhered to Nehru's principles of socialism and worked upon that.

On his first address as the Prime Minister of India, he said, "There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations."

3. The Sirima-Shastri Pact: Shastri is well known for his foreign policies and his agreement with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was a milestone in regard with the status of the Indian Tamils in the then Ceylon. Under this agreement, many Indian Tamils were granted Sri Lankan citizenship and many were repatriated  in the eyar 1981. Later India declined further applications for citizenship as pact lapsed.

4. He led the Indo-Pak war of 1965: The sudden attempt of Pakistan to occupy Kashmir proved to be a real challenge for Shastri. Shastri didn't wait for any international reaction and ordered the army to retaliate with full force. As the war ended on 23 September, 1965,  with a UN mandated ceasefire, India crushed down Pakistan.

5. The mystery behind Shastri's death: He was the first Prime Minister of India to die overseas. He travelled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to sign an agreement to formally end the war between India and Pakistan  in 1966 but was found dead a day after the agreement was signed. Though it was alleged he died of a heart attack, many suspicions were raised about the enquiry of his death and CIA's involvement in his death.

 

Arya Lakshmi/JPN

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