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The National Emergency 1975: ‘Darkest Phase in India’s Democratic History’

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Article by Niladri Sekhar Dutta, The North-Eastern Chronicle

Visuals by: Aslam Sidiqque, Subham Kr Dey

India is regarded as the World’s largest Democracy, which is acknowledged and followed by the entire world. But one such time when this democracy which we feel proud of was stomped. I’m talking about the 1975 Emergency, imposed by the then Prime Minister of India Smt Indira Gandhi.

emergency

This period will forever stay as a stain on our democratic nation. But it also teaches us many important lessons. To upload democratic culture, we must continually question those in power and stand up against any authoritarian practices. We must continually question those in power and stand up against any authoritarian practices

Also read: Assam government’s new cattle bill flare-up crackdown triggers; Involvement suspected of ‘non-state actors’: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

The Emergency remained in effect from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977, and to this date is often regarded as a ‘dark phase’ in independent India’s history because this period was marked by a government crackdown on civil liberties, other political opposition leaders arrested, frequent human rights violations and even the press being censored to a prohibitive extent.

emergency

So what prompted Indira Gandhi to impose an Emergency?

On June 12, 1975, the Allahabad High Court convicted, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for electoral malpractices and debarring her from holding any elected post. Raj Narain, who had been defeated in the 1971 parliamentary election by Indira Gandhi, lodged cases of election fraud and use of state machinery for election purposes against her in the Allahabad High Court.

Opposition leaders Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai called for daily anti-government protests and organized a large rally in Delhi. Later that day, Indira Gandhi requested a complaint to the President to proclaim a state of emergency. Within three hours, the electricity to all major newspapers was cut and the political opposition leaders were arrested.

emergency rss

According to Amnesty International, 1,40,000 people had been arrested without trial during the 21-month emergency. Some ‘unconstitutional’ measures were taken, including maa ss forced sterilization campaign spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s younger son. Many of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s senior leaders were also arrested during this period.

This period will forever stay as a stain on our democratic nation. But it also teaches us many important lessons. To upload democratic culture, we must continually question those in power and stand up against any authoritarian practices. We must continually question those in power and stand up against any authoritarian practices

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