Kolkata: West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Tuesday described the Emergency period as the 'darkest days' in the post-independence era of the country.
In an article titled 'Emergency - The Dark Hour' on the 43rd anniversary of the Emergency, he recounted how educational institutions run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other organisations were targeted.
Tripathi wrote, "The Emergency days were the darkest days in the post-independent India. How one can stoop so low to fulfil the lust for power was shamelessly demonstrated in those days in the activities of the then ruling party at the Centre. There was a reign of terror throughout the country. Illustrations of brutalities in different forms inflicted on innocent citizens are too many to count."
The Governor further elaborated, "The background for the imposition was the Judgement pronounced on 12 June 1975 by Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court setting aside the election of Smt Indira Gandhi. The imposition of Emergency came too suddenly on 25 of June 1975. The declaration of Emergency did not receive the support of the people at large."
Sharing his experience with instances Tripathi recalled, "There were protests and demonstrations against it. By and large, the people were so afraid and terrorised that they refused to say anything about Emergency. When I, on the 25th of June itself, requested some of the senior members of the Allahabad Bar Association to pass a resolution condemning the Emergency, they just avoided bring present in the meeting itself. Later, a large number of Advocates of the Allahabad High Court undertook a march in their robes from the High Court to the Clock Tower Chowk, in the city in protest against the Emergency."
He complained, "I distinctly recall how persons connected with the RSS, Jan Sangh, Socialist party and other anti-Congress parties were implicated on false charges and sent to jail under MISA/DIR (Defence of India Rules).... I had to file several Writ Petitions in the Allahabad High Court against the detentions/proposed detentions. Salaries of teachers of schools allegedly belonging to, or associated with, the RSS or other Opposition parties were stopped bringing their families to a situation of starvation..."
According to Tripathi, "Schools run by the RSS were taken over by the Government. Some of them were forced to close down. The newspaper ‘Motherland’ was also a victim of the Emergency. People used to fear talking even to their close friends against the Emergency. Democracy had been throttled by every means and at every stage."
Lashing out at the Congress he observed, "There is always a limit even to atrocities but this limit was crossed everyday during the Emergency. Many Congressmen were seen active in vindicating their personal grievances and forcing the police to arrest their political adversaries. Humanity was absent throughout the Emergency. There are many such incidents when basic facilities and help were denied to those in need."
Tripathi argued, "It was just not an Emergency. It was a calamity brought down on the people of India by none other than those who claimed to be champions of Democracy. Patriots suffered during Emergency. Self seekers had a good day. The entire country was practically turned into a jail. The Emergency saw thousands of innocent persons detained in jails for 19 months. The torture of some of them in jail was also indescribable. Several persons died in jail in detention. However, the silver lining was the Indian Judiciary which came to the rescue of those who were being illegally detained. The High Court granted bail and other reliefs also as was felt necessary by it."
The West Bengal Governor reasoned, "The other effect was that people who suffered became more resolute and stronger in their conviction and the patriotic and democratic feelings in them were strengthened. The suppression of fundamental rights of expression, movement, expression, speech, etc suffered during Emergency as they were suspended. The whole country was feeling subjugated and eager to get rid of such a notorious situation. The story and the experience are too long to be confined in a few pages. However, ultimately the will of the people prevailed and Emergency was withdrawn and Smt Gandhi was dethroned."...