Arguably the toughest time for the citizens of the country, the emergency was issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution.
Censorship was imposed on the press, cinema and other forms of art, and political leaders were being arrested at the whim and fancy of the government.
The consequences of emergency were severe with censorship, torture, arrests, and freedom mercilessly taken away.
What factors led Indira Gandhi to impose ‘the Emergency’?
During the period leading up to 1975, the political unrest had started to brew against the Indira Gandhi government, in the entire country. The unrest was marked by some of the significant movements like:
* It began with the case against Indira Gandhi for election malpractices in Allahabad High Court. The verdict of the same was later challenged in Supreme Court which granted Gandhi a conditional stay. It allowed her to be an MP but not preside over parliamentary proceedings. It began with the case against Indira Gandhi for election malpractices in Allahabad High Court. The verdict of the same was later challenged in Supreme Court which granted Gandhi a conditional stay. It allowed her to be an MP but not preside over parliamentary proceedings.
* The Nav Nirman movement in Gujarat led by students and middle-class people against corruption.
* Student agitation by Bihar Chatra Sangharsh Samiti, which was led by the socialist Jayprakash Narain (popularly known as JP), who also declared “total revolution”, asking students and public at large, to non-violently protest everyday.
* The nationwide strike of the railway-employees union, the largest union in India. The strike had to face brutal suppression by the government, with thousands of employees and their families being driven out of their quarters.
Some of the scarring memories & facts from the time during “the Emergency” period are-
* All the fundamental rights of the citizens were cut back.
* Arrests were made without framing any charges.
* Media was censored.
* Narendra Modi posed as Sikh during emergency to avoid arrest.
* The opposition leaders were tortured, arrested, or detained. Some of the many notable leaders from the opposition to have faced the major wrath were Jayprakash Narain, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Avani, Raj Narain and Jivatram Kripalni.
* Sanjay Gandhi performed atrocity of sterilisation. Coated with a blanket of family planning, the method was purported to be voluntary. However, there have been reports of single, old and in some cases opponents being forced to be sterilised.
* Writer and actress Snehalatha Reddy died in prison after she was denied parole for treatment.
The phase of 21 months is a reminder of how we, the people, need to embrace the freedom our constitution gives us.
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