Thirty two years ago, on this day, and to be precise, at mid-night on June 25-26, a murder took place in the darkness and foreboding silence of Raisina Hill in New Delhi. A spineless Rashtrapati (as India's President is known), Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, signed the proclamation declaring a State of Emergency in the country, blindly putting his signature on the piece of paper send by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Democracy and Individual freedom had been murdered and their corpse buried. The young Indian Republic was facing the first major challenge to its existence, not from external enemies but from inside.
Day break saw prominent leaders of India's Opposition like Jayapraksh Narayan , Morarji Desai and many others put behind bars. Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution were suspended and Censorship imposed on the press. The ruling Congress party and its leader Indira Gandhi trampled on the democratic traditions carefully nurutured by the stalwarts of the freedom struggle, many of whom were also the founding fathers of India's Republic. What the British once did to their Indian subjects, Congress was repeating on citizens of free india. 'Indira is India and India is Indira' was the Congress slogan.
Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka's 'The Man Died' is about a similar situation in Nigeria. It's opening line ' The man dies who remains silent in the face of tyranny' echoes in me as I write this. Thousands of Indians, civil servants, judges, professors, journalists, doctors, technocrats, writers, all remained silent, before the ruthless might of the Establishment. They had died to ther conscience.
This blog entry is a tribute to those Indians who dared to fight the Emergency regime and stood up to the powers that be. It is not proper to list names, for all cannot be included. 'Indian Express' was the only English newspaper to challenge the dictatorship of Indira Gandhi. A 'Journalism of Courage' marked its presence. Justice H.R.Khanna boldly wrote a dissenting judgement allowing Habeas Corpus which led the New York Times to comment editorially 'If ever freedom and democracy returns to India, a grateful nation will erect a monument to Justice H.R.Khanna of the Supreme Court'.
This entry also salutes the rustic,illiterate, and simple people of the Indo-Gangetic plain, who in their millions, hit back through the ballot box in 1977, defeating Indira Gandhi and the Congress Party. They alone helped restore the democratic freedoms of the Republic . If they had done the reverse, perhaps, I would not be writing this entry today.