35th Anniversary of Emergency


25 June 1975 Indira gandhi declared Emergency. Press banned, opposition leaders jailed..has the Congress atoned enough for the Emergency?

As  I quote the above tweet of Sagarika Ghose of CNN-IBN and as I write this blog today on the 35th anniversary of the infamous emergency, I vividly remember that particular morning in Deoria ( my native place in Uttar Pradesh ). I was sitting and waiting for the morning news paper. My younger brother Atul Chaturvedi came running with the paper in hand and showed it to me. That morning’s banner headline was : INDIRA GANDHI DECLARES EMERGENCY . I was shocked and we started discussing the implications of the promulgation of emergency. We discussed it at length. But frankly speaking, we could not anticipate the incidents, which were soon going to get unfolded in front of us. We could not gauge seriousness of  matter.

Let me go into the details of the events which preceded this declaration. Indira Gandhi got elected for Lok Sabha from her  pocket borough Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. Her main opponent Late Raj Narain challenged her election and filed a petition in Allahabad High Court. Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha heard the arguments of both sides and pronounced the judgement. He found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral misconduct and declared her election to the Lok Sabha invalid. There was a clamour for her resignation and opposition parties started mass movement. Instead of resigning gracefully, she clamped emergency to save her position and suspended all the legal and constitutional rights of the citizens of India. Lakhs of political workers of all the parties were jailed, basic human rights were suspended, constitution was amended and all political activities were prohibited and banned. Electronic media was non-existent then, but press was there and it was the only medium of information. censorship was clamped on it and we were debarred from getting all the news. Only government of the day used to decide which news was worthy of publishing and which was not. Dev Kant Barua, the then Congress president, had the audacity to declared that – INDIA IS INDIRA AND INDIRA IS INDIA. This was height of sycophancy, but it was the rule of the day.


As the nation’s voice was suppressed,there were no public protests against Emergency. Indira reacted to this by saying- “Not a dog barked!”

The above  tweet, which I have quoted, amply states the situation of the country. Indira Gandhi ruled the country with arrogance and iron hand and finally , under the chairmanship of Swarna Singh, former Foreign Minister, formed a committee to amend the Constitution of India. Swarna Singh, being a doormat as he was, obeyed his supremo and submitted his recommendations. Finally Constitution was amended without a murmur or protest. Height of the emergency was implicating indomitable George Fernandes in BARODA DYNAMITE CASE. Several false cases were filed against all the political leaders. I am giving below the link of the picture of hand-cuffed and chained George Fernandes :
Image that defines Emergency: http://j.mp/bhW05r George Fernandes chained & hand-cuffed! via web

Incidentally at the same time a former socialist and Bhoodan leader Jay Prakash Narayan was spearheading his movement called, TOTAL REVOLUTION. It was a movement for eradication of corruption . Indira Gandhi thought that it was a conspiracy to dethrone her . Autocrat as she was , she linked both the things and acted imperiously.
Those were the darkest days of the nation. There were no light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto announced elections and held it. Indira gandhi felt insulted and she too announced elections in India. She was sure that since there was no credible, visible opposition, she will win the elections hands down. She fought the elections and lost badly. She even lost her own seat. Janata Party won the elections and the first ever non-Congress government was formed at the centre. People of India gave their verdict. It was for democracy.


35 years after the Emergency, we need to value our democracy and its freedoms, not abuse them or restrict them.

One Response

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