Often called the darkest period in the history of independent India, the 21-month long duration of the national emergency had changed the dynamics of the nation. Now, 45 years later, let us look at the reasons behind the invocation of the Emergency.
On June 25, 1975 then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had called for a national emergency to curb the several “internal disturbance”. The then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed had signed the proclamation on this very day. Using the All India Radio to announce the beginning of the emergency period, Indira Gandhi had said a day later: “The President has proclaimed Emergency. There is nothing to panic about”.
This announcement left everyone in a daze which was followed by censoring the press, imprisoning hundreds of opposition leaders, student leaders and trade unionists who were voicing against the Congress-led government.
As the citizens were left bereft of their constitutional rights, and the freedom of speech and the press taken away, the prime minister had conveyed that the decision of emergency was to strengthen the nation economically, democratically and against foreign intervention.
Months prior to this period were tumultuous to say the very least with a wide ranging movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan inching closer to Delhi. This was accentuated with increasing unemployment, and inflation.
Other than the JP movement, the Raj Narain verdict, railways strikes led by George Fernandes and the Navnirman Andolan shook Indira Gandhi’s regime from all corners.