Rajat Sharma


AKB30 The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Wednesday after opposition Congress members created uproar and objected to the newly elected Speaker Om Birla reading out a resolution on the 1975 Emergency, labelling it as “a dark chapter in India’s history”. Ruling BJP and other NDA members came out of the House, shouted slogans against Emergency and displayed placards. In the resolution, Speaker Om Birla said, “This House strongly condemns the decision to impose Emergency in 1975. Along with this, we applaud the determination of all those who opposed the Emergency, fought tyranny and discharged their responsibility of protecting democracy in India. 25th June, 1975, shall always be known as a black chapter in the history of India. On this day, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in the country and attacked the Constitution made by Babasaheb Ambedkar. India is known all over the world as the Mother of Democracy. Democratic values and debates have always been protected and encouraged in India. Dictatorship was imposed on India on that day by Indira Gandhi. Our democratic values were crushed and our freedom of expression was strangled”, Speaker Om Birla said. Opposition members shouted slogans “Band Karo, Band Karo” as Speaker Om Birla read out the resolution. It may be recalled that on the first day of 18th Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to those great men and women who resisted Emergency in 1975 and reminded people of how Congress under Indira Gandhi subverted basic liberties and trampled over the Constitution. “The mindset which led to the imposition of Emergency in 1975 is very much alive in the same party that imposed it. They hide their disdain for the Constitution through tokenism but the people of India have seen through their antics, and that is why that party has been rejected by the people time and again”, Modi had said. Nearly half a century ago, on June 25, 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency. I was a close witness to that dark night and had been a victim of atrocities unleashed by the then government. The liberties of Indian citizens were taken away in order to keep Indira Gandhi on her throne as Prime Minister. Overnight, all major opposition leaders like Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Parkash Singh Badal, George Fernandes, L K Advani, were thrown into jail. Student leaders at that time like Arun Jaitley, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Ramvilas Paswan, and thousands of other students were arrested from their homes and hideouts and thrown into jails. Hundreds of student leaders went underground. People of India had no knowledge about the manner in which opposition activists were being rounded up. Power supply to newspaper offices was disconnected. At that time, the government-run Doordarshan was the only TV channel available, which showed only news approved by the government. Draconian censorship was imposed on the press. The liberty to speak up in the open was taken away. Police officers were given powers to shoot. I have seen those dark days of Emergency and have lived in that stifling environment. At that time, I was 17 years old. I was part of JP’s movement and was linked with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. I published a small newspaper to tell people about the actual happenings that were going on in political circles. I was later arrested by police, tortured inside a police station, and had to remain in jail for several months. But I never lost courage. I shall never forget those dark days. The media, in those days, was under strict surveillance and censorship. The voice of opposition leaders was crushed. The government gained control over judiciary. The Constitution was made a hostage, Democracy was murdered in broad daylight. Fifty years have passed. Most of the people do not remember those dark days. It is necessary for all of us to remain aware about how the struggle was waged to regain freedom of expression. Some day I shall narrate my experiences in detail. I will describe the circumstances under which Emergency was imposed, for whose benefit it was imposed, and how the people of India, after 19 months, threw out that autocratic government through ballots.

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