The new generation born during the last three decades did not have the bitter experience of the Draconian Emergency declared by the Indira Gandhi Government on 25th/ 26th June 2011. It is 36 years since the Emergency was declared.
The Indira Gandhi Government was under attack for its anti-people measures. The brutal suppression of the 22 days Railway strike in 1974 was an indication of what was to come. In between, the Allahabad High Court cancelled the election of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Parliament. And on another side, Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement started which grew in to an avalanche churning the entire country. Indira Gandhi did not see any way to meet this challenge and declared National Emergency in the midnight of 25th/26th June, arresting all opposition leaders, trade union functionaries and others who were opposing the congress regime. BJP, CPI(M) and all other oppositions were the main targets.
The emergency prohibitted and suppressed all kinds of protests and democratic rights of the people. The newspapers were gagged. Without screening by the government censors, no paper could be published. Meetings, demonstrations – all were prohibitted.
I was in the train along with a few other comrades going to Delhi from Kerala to attend a Convention of the Central Government Employees and Workers to chalk out agitation programmes on the urgent demands of the workers. On alighting at New Delhi Railway Station we found that there were a large number of police personnel and there was complete silence and hushed voices only. Some comrades from Delhi came to us and told that National Emergency has been declared by the Government and it is not safe to stay where our accommodation was arranged. We were taken to the residence of comrade Jyothirmoy Basu, CPI(M) leader and Member of Parliament at that time. He had already gone underground to escape from arrest. After reaching there, our comrades told about the explosive situation under the draconian emergency. We were told not to go outside,for the fear of being arrested. Comrade Jyothirmoy Basu came in the night about 03.00 AM or so, took out some dresses etc. and left through the back-door by which way he had come.Later he was arrested and
However, I went to No.4, Ashoka Road,which was the bunglow allotted to Comrade A.K.Gopalan, M.P. I met Comrade Narikutty Mohanan there who was the Delhi correspondent of Deshabhimani. Incidentally at that time a call came from Ernakulam Exchange.There were no mobile phones at that time.Even STD was not available.Every trunk call was to be connected by Exchange only. It was fortunate that Comrade K.Prabhakaran, well known P andT leader called at that time. Since all press news were completely barred and communications through telephones and fax were all censured there was no opportunity for Narikutty to give a report to the Deshabhimani in Kerala. When Prabhakaran contacted I asked him to connect Deshabhimani and Narikkutty gave detailed report about the declaration of emergency the list of the arrested leaders and other information. And in the next day Deshabhimani, all the news came with photoes of the arrested leaders and a strong editorial. I was told later that Narikkutty was taken in to custody and questioned, but the police could not find how the news reached Ernakulam Deshabhimani, because there were no records of fax, trunk call etc.
On 28th I walked through the Rafi Marg on the side of which is the Mavlankar auditorium where the CGE convention was to be held next day. The entire area was cordoned and a large number of police were there.The convention was already banned and the leaders were compelled to cancel it. So the first taste of emergency for me was in Delhi only.
Later, so many leaders of CGE movement were arrested and put in jail till the end of emergency. Com. Prabhakaran was one among them. I was taken in to custody twice during the emergency and questioned a whole night.
In the General Elections in 1977, the Congress was routed out. For the first time in India a non-congress government came in to power consisting of almost all opposition parties which won with thumbing majority. The Shah Commission which was appointed to enquire in to the Emergency excesses gave a true picture of what the nation and the people suffered during the Emergency.
No Indian wants a recurrence of that draconian Emergency.