Deccan Chronicle

Through the eyes of a cop: At stroke of midnight when democracy snapped

Deccan Chronicle| b. r. srikanth

Published on: June 25, 2015 | Updated on: Invalid date

For Mr T Srinivasulu, DCP (law and order), the officer who arrested them, it was a painful moment

Revisiting the dark past: L.K. Advani and Ramakrishna Hegde (left) at Bangalore central jail in 2000

Revisiting the dark past: L.K. Advani and Ramakrishna Hegde (left) at Bangalore central jail in 2000

BENGALURU: Twenty one days after their arrest, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr L K Advani, Mr Madhu Dandavate and Mr S N Mishra had commenced their walk to freedom from the central prison in Bengaluru only to be stopped in their tracks and taken into custody on fresh orders which were brought from New Delhi by Attorney General Niren De. They would stay behind bars for the next 18 months!

For Mr T Srinivasulu, DCP (law and order), the officer who arrested them - first on June 26, 1975 and again in July, it was a painful moment.

"I felt very bad. These leaders were very angry when they were detained again and sent back to prison. Actually, I felt glad when I rounded up 11 Matka operators from Race Course road under MISA. That was a greater achievement. These leaders were very graceful and never held a grudge against us. Soon after Mr Morarji Desai took over as Prime Minister, I was posted as assistant director in the intelligence bureau, New Delhi. I met Mr Advani many times later on, the last occasion was when he was the Union home minister, and he always recognized me and made polite enquiries," the officer who retired as DGP told Deccan Chronicle.

Read: June 1975 Emergency, when Bengaluru’s jails filled up

Mr R Ramalingam, another retired DGP, who, as superintendent of police (special branch), worked behind the scenes during the Emergency, said Chief Minister D Devaraj Urs himself was not keen on arresting politicians under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), but had little choice as the instructions came from Delhi.

"Mr Thyagarajan, our DSP (deputy superintendent of police), who went with Mr Srinivasulu to arrest the leaders said Mr Mishra who was doing Yoga in his room in the Legislators Home (LH), used to turn to him after every asana  (posture), and ask if they should leave for the nearest police station (High Grounds). He was only arrested after he had completed all the asanas. All these four leaders were served breakfast when they reached the police station," he added.

Mr Srinivasulu, who served as security adviser to the state government, and was later elected to the Legislative Council in Andhra Pradesh, said though Mr Advani and Mr Vajpayee who were occupying adjoining rooms in LH were ready to head to the police station right away, he had a tough time with Mr Mishra who argued that no one could be arrested without a warrant.

"I told him about section 151 of CrPC (preventive arrest), and he shot back, asking what harm could someone doing yoga cause harm to anybody. We were all nervous till the warrants came from Delhi in the evening because the arrests were made on the oral orders of the police commissioner," he said.

He said Mr Ramakrishna Hegde was at the dining table in his residence when police officers arrived to arrest him. "He invited us for dinner, but when we refused, he asked us to wait for a while, and joined us along with bag of clothes" he said adding he later arrested Mr H D Deve Gowda, the leader who would appoint him as special director of the IB when he took over as Prime Minister in 1996.

"For six months, there were no strikes or protests, but later people came out in the open against Emergency and wanted to be arrested under MISA. Personally, I think Emergency could have been avoided as it did not serve any purpose. We had no choice but to obey the orders of our IGP and police commissioner," he added.

Snehalata Reddy

Among other well known personalities arrested under MISA was movie director Pattabhi Rama Reddy and his actress-wife and social activist Snehalata Reddy. The charge: she was a close friend of George Fernandes and was part of Baroda Dynamite case. Her name, however, did not figure in the final charge-sheet but she was tortured and confined to a cell in the central prison in Bengaluru. She died five days after she was released on parole in January 1977.

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