MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA JANUARY 14 , 2012 02.55 A.M.
I missed the news then . When I was going through the bunch of old news papers few days ago , I came across a small news item about her death in the Times of India . This innocuous news of Svetlana’s death brought back some forgotten memories . It opened a dog – ear – page of my book of life . Some sepia – toned photos rushed to the firmament of my being .
The year was 1967 . I passed High School and went to Allahabad for further studies . In the Government Inter College of Allahabad , I was slowly opening up . I was curious to know everything . I wanted to know all the aspects of the world and I used to devour knowledge of every kind .
News papers of 1966 were full of the Svetlana episode . Svetlana left USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republic ] in 1966 , and came to India with the ashes of her third husband Brijesh Singh , a scion of Kalakankar state in Uttar Pradesh . Indian news papers were full of her stories and every one was anxious and curious to know more about her .
Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva , youngest child and only daughter of Josef Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva was raised by a nanny . Her mother died when Svetlana was only 6 years old . According to Soviet premiere Nikita Khrushchev , Stalin was an abusive husband . It is rumoured that Nadezhda Alliluyeva committed suicide due to the atrocities of Stalin . According to some , she was killed by Stalin himself .
Svetlana married twice but her marriages were not successful . Stalin died in 1953 . Svetlana was 27 years old then . After her father’s death , she worked as a lecturer of history and political thought in Moscow . Apart from Russian , she was fluent in German , French and English .
Svetlana met Brijesh Singh , her third husband in a hospital in 1963 . She was admitted for a minor surgery and Brijesh Singh , a scion of Kalakankar state of Uttar Pradesh , was very ill at that time and was admitted for a major operation . They met , fell in love and love blossomed when they shifted to a resort near Black Sea . Couple returned to Moscow in 1965 but were not allowed to marry . Singh died in 1966 and with his ashes , Svetlana left USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republic ] in 1966 , and came to India with the ashes to immerse it in the Holy Ganga .
She stayed in Kalakankar Palace for 8 months and wanted to take asylum in India . It was refused and she approached U. S. A. embassy in New Delhi and was granted U. S. citizenship .
सैकत शैय्या पर दुग्ध धवल ,
तन्वंगी गंगा ग्रीष्म विरल ,
बैठीं हैं शांत क्लांत निश्चल ||
कालाकांकर का राज भवन ……..
I still remember these lines of famous Hindi poet Sumitra Nandan Pant . Kalakankar was etched in my memory . Like the other fellow students of my age , I was aghast that the Congress government of Indira Nehru Gandhi didn’t grant asylum to Svetlana . Majority of students of Allahabad University were critical of the Congress government’s decision .
She got asylum in United States of America and later on became a citizen also . Later on she wrote a best-selling book ; ” Twenty Letters To A Friend ” and married there and had a daughter , Olga .
She moved back to Soviet Union in 1980 and again returned to U. S. A. within a year . Slowly she moved away from the front pages of the news papers . Slowly her memory faded .
Last week , when I read about her death . flood of memories gushed to my mind and I started remembering those days of 1966 , when Svetlana came to India seeking asylum and was denied that . We suspected that the Congress government refused asylum to her under pressure from government of the then USSR .
With her death , a forgotten and faded chapter of my dog – eared book of life is lost forever .
Farewell Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva ! May you rest in peace !
I am sorry that my country , which is famous for not refusing shelter to anyone , failed for the first time . I am sorry that a long tradition of granting shelter to the shelter – seekers was broken for the first time during the tenure of Indira Nehru Gandhi of the Congress , The Indian National Congress .
I was ashamed then and I am saddened now .
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
- Joseph Stalin’s daughter and critic Svetlana Alliluyeva dies (thehindu.com)
- Stalin’s Only Daughter Dies (socyberty.com)
- Josef Stalin’s Daughter, Lana Peters, aka Svetlana Alliluyeva, Dead at 85 (ibtimes.com)
- Stalin’s Daughter Dies At 85 In Wisconsin (huffingtonpost.com)
- Prisoner of the name: Joseph Stalin’s daughter dies (rt.com)
- Stalin’s Daughter Lana Peters Dies at 85 (foxnews.com)
- The extraordinary life of Josef Stalin’s daughter Svetlana – who died in the US as Lana Peters (mirror.co.uk)
- Josef Stalin’s Daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva (Lana Peters) Dies In Richland Center, Wisconsin (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- ‘I was a political prisoner of my father’s name’ (thehindu.com)
- Lana Peters obituary (guardian.co.uk)
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