New Delhi: It was on June 26 , 1975 when the independent India woke up, it realized that the free country was reduced to a tin-pot dictatorship as the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, acting upon the advice of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had declared a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India.

The emergency period continued for 21-long-months and is considered as the darkest phase of Indian democracy by the political thinkers and critics. The emergency, which is apparently termed as a blot on the political history of free India, brought democracy to a grinding halt and all the fundamental rights, civil liberties and legal remedies guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of India were suspended by the Indira Gandhi government.

Prime Minister Gandhi defended her sudden decision to recommend for emergency citing threats to India’s internal and national security from neighbouring countries, economic crisis and political unrest.  However, her clarification failed to impress the critics and observers and she faced immense criticism from every corner.

Apparently granting extraordinary powers to herself after suspending the civil liberties and legal remedies, Gandhi launched a massive crackdown against the opposition parties and landed several big leaders into the jail. The political bigwigs who were sent behind the bars for protesting against the government included Jayaprakash Narayan, Raj Narain, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Jivatram Kripalani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, MK Stalin, M Karunanidhi and others.

Organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Jamaat-e-Islami along with some political parties were banned.

The period of emergency was also the black days for Indian Media. The freedom of press was suspended and media agencies like Doordarshan were apparently being used by the government for propaganda.

21 months later in March 1977 when the emergency was revoked and people got back their genuine powers granted by the Constitution, the countrymen voted out Indira Gandhi and the Congress government in the elections. This was for the first time when India saw a non-Congress government at the Centre.

JPN

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