NEW DELHI: On June 25, 1975, Emergency was imposed for 21 months when the President passed an ordinance about how the state was in danger.
Immediately after the emergency was declared, all the fundamental rights were suspended while politicians were detained and a heavy censorship was imposed on the media. Even after 40 years today, people still remember the trauma they suffered then.
But at the same time, on the face of Independent India, what triggered Indira Gandhi to take such a call is something each mind ponders on. Could India have avoided that situation and who was benefited the most out of it are some other questions that are still largely unanswered.
What was the reason?
It all started after the election misconducts case against Indira Gandhi in Allahabad High Court for which the verdict was later challenged in the Supreme Court that granted Gandhi a conditional stay.
The stay permitted Gandhi to remain an MP but she did not chair over the parliamentary proceedings. This was seen as the first step towards emergency.
The second stage of the same was the ‘Total Revolution’ started by Jayaprakash Narayan who demanded the resignation of Indira Gandhi following the verdict from the Allahabad High Court.
On the very same day, JP declared the countrywide plan of daily protest in every state capital and the army, police and citizens were asked to follow the Constitution than Indira Gandhi.
The emergency declared that time was taken as a result of systematic breakdown as the country was going through social, economic and political crisis.
All these reasons collectively were believed as Indira Gandhi being blinded by power who imposed the emergency to protect her personal political and personal interests.
Prominent names arrested
Gandhi raised Article 352 of the Indian Constitution that gave her unusual powers which she used to control police forces to arrest protestors and strike leaders including JP Narayan, Vijayaraje Scindia, Morarji Desai, Jivatram kripalani, LK Advani among others.
Following the arrest of these leaders, other protestors went underground to continue their protest. Reports also suggested that some protestors who were detained were tortured to death.
Impact on Elections
Following the declaration of the Emergency situation in India, the state and the parliamentary elections were postponed.
The emergency in India gave massive power not only to Indira Gandhi but also her son Sanjay Gandhi who performed the evil of sterilization. Covered under the blanket of ‘family planning’, the process was believed to be voluntary. However, reports informed that unmarried, old and in some cases opponents were enforced to get sterilized.
Censorship imposed on media
Media, considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy was vastly effected under the Emergency as serious censorship was imposed on newspaper, television and radio. Nobody except the Indian Express had the courage to challenge the censorship orders and in its first edition following the imposition of Emergency, it had a blank page instead of editorial. The Financial Express on the other hand had a poem by Rabindranath Tagore “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high.”
Indira Gandhi also made sure that the Information and Broadcast Minster IK Gujral was replaced with Vidya Charan Shukla.
Indira Gandhi used her power during the Emergency to restructure the laws since her party enjoyed two third majority in the Lok Sabha. She amended the Constitution in such a way that it cleared her from the election-scam charges in the case against her.
Gandhi also ensured that there was President’s Rule in all the anti-Gandhi states.
Impact of Emergency
Congress faced the cost of the same combined with the anger of the general public after the Emergency was lifted. While writers wrote about Emergency in their novels, films like ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ was too made that were a bold scorn of the dark phase.
But this did not end here as soon after the Emergency was lifted, Indira Gandhi had to undergo huge criticism for her actions, the results of which were seen in the 1977 Lok sabha Elections where the Janata Party leadership of Morarji Desai took over.
Indira Gandhi was later arrested on account of various cases against her.