MY LIFE AND STRUGGLES – 34
DARK DAYS OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY 1975 – 77 (Contd)
I was taken to a large room upstairs. A police officer in civil dress was sitting in front of a large table. Later I understood that he was Superintendent of Police. I was given a seat in front of him. Two burly muscular police officers in uniform were sitting on other end, whom I could identify as Dy. Superintendents.
There were two or three large files in front of SP. He was cordial and started asking many questions, going through files about my place of birth, schools studied, job details, union activities, agitations, transfers etc. etc. I could understand that details in the files were about me. I have known earlier that certain branches of police used to keep such files of union office bearers. When I joined Ernakulam on transfer in 1970, one police officer called me and enquired certain information. When I asked him how he knew that I was at Ernakulam, he told that such information are regularly updated by them. Hence no surprise here.
Questioning continued for some time. In between, when any telephone call came, I was asked to go to next room and will be called back after call. Phone calls became frequent.
At this stage, SP told officers that they can leave. He told me that there are serious complaints about me including sabotage as also about my speeches against Emergency in union meetings. He confided that a certain senior political leader wanted me to be taken in to custody and jailed. He said that since there is no incriminating evidence against me, I am being allowed to go. With a smile, he asked whether I know him. I said no. Then he told that he was class mate of my eldest brother and he knew me well. It was a surprise.
He asked his personal driver to take me home. I still had doubts and told that I can go by auto riksha. He insisted. I got in and driver started car. Now recognised the place and building which was near West Hill maidan.
When car reached near Police Commissioner Office, got down. Walked to telephone exchange. Large number of workers had gathered there discussing what to be done about my arrest. When they saw me, they were happy and shouted slogans of welcome. Told them what happened, except the personal part of what SP told. This was not disclosed till recently. I am mentioning now, since at least once have to thank him openly.
Elections and afterConfident of victory, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared General Elections in January 1977. Except few political leaders, like Com.George Fernandez, almost all others were released from jail. Coms. V.A.Ouseph and Sathyanathan were also released.
Anger against Emergency and Indira Gandhi government was fully reflected in election. Despite advantage of Emergency situation, Congress Party was routed and newly formed Janata Party, a combination political parties, won with huge majority and formed government with Shri Morarji Desai as Prime Minister. Hated Emergency was immediately withdrawn.
While our comrades were in jail, union made some efforts to get them parole. I had been elected as Kerala Circle President of the union by this time. Along with Circle Secretary Com. T.V.Joseph met Chief Minister Shri C. Achutha Menon, requested for parole of our comrades. He told us that these matters are being dealt by Shri K.Karunakaran, Home Minister. We met Home Minister. He was sitting in a big hall. Just before we were called, many police officers went in and came out within minutes. We were called . We requested for parole. When he understood that Adiyodi incident as reason for arrest and custody, became angry and told that we get pardon from Minister Adiyodi. He also criticised behaviour of telephone operators in general. He cited his own experience stating that a trunk call to Indiraji (of course, before she became Prime Minister) was disconnected after 6 minutes by the operator, stating that extension cannot be given due to large number of pending calls. He further stated that ‘ if it was during Emergency, all operators would have been arrested and jailed’. We did not say anything, but requested again for grant of parole. He said ‘will consider’. Of course, Com.V.A.Ouseph got parole for a few days. It is to be mentioned that most of those jailed did not get any parole.
One day one comrade from Cannanore intimated that NGO Union leader Com.E.Padmanabhan is coming on parole by bus and was asked to wait at KSRTC Bus stand. When he got down we took tea together. He entrusted me with certain responsibilities which was carried out without delay. He proceeded to Palghat by bus.Coms.
Ouseph and Sathyanathan joined duty and got back wages. One problem remained. Sathyanathan had applied for job in Indian Bank, was selected and appointment order from Head Office, Madras has come, while he was in jail. Extension for six months was allowed and appointment order was cancelled later. He was very particular about this job, since pay scales were higher.
How to solve the problem? With a representation from Com. Sathyanathan, proceeded to Delhi, immediately after Janata government came in to power. Went to Janata Party Office situated in a big compound with many official bungalows of Ministers. There were name boards of the new Ministers on some of the bungalows. Hundreds of people from various states were crowded there to meet their leaders. Canteen available, where food was supplied free. People were celebrating victory of Janata Party.
Met party office Secretary there. Stated the matter. He went through the representation, signed it, returned and asked me to meet Finance Minister. Went to North Block in an auto. Directly entered Minister’s Office. No sentry, nobody stopped. Finance Minister Shri H.M.Patel was coming out from his room. Met him told the facts and gave the representation. He read it, signed and told me to meet Finance Secretary in nearby room. Met Finance Secretary. He directed me to Joint Secretary (Finance), whose office was functioning in the 5th floor of L.I.C.Building opposite Dak Bhawan near Patel Chowk. Took an auto riksha, went there, met Joint Secretary, Finance. He went through the letter, asked me further details. Then he telephoned General Manager of Indian Bank Head office at Madras. He told GM that “ Mr. Namboodiri, is sitting before me. Appointment orders should reach Calicut, before he reaches there.” So happy that mission has been successful.
Immediately went to nearby V.P.House, called Calicut and informed the happy news. As told by Joint Secretary, appointment order had been received by Sathyanathan before my arrival. An example, how Janata Government functioned in its early days, without any red tape or delay.
Most of Emergency excesses were rectified within weeks after new government took over. P & T workers terminated in Kerala in connection with 1974 strike were reinstated. Choudhury Charan Singh, who became Prime Minister in 1979 issued orders granting Bonus, first to railway employees and then to all Central government employees. The most important demand of the 1974 Strike was settled as also victimisation. (to be continued). Photos: 1. Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh 2. Kerala Home Minister K.Karunakaran 3. Delhi Secretariat North Block 4. Indian Bank Head Office Madras 5. Finance minister H.M.Patel
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