Young Indians call Emergency ugly attempt to muzzle rights

New Delhi (IANS) As India marks 40 years of Emergency that was declared on June 25, 1975, young Indians call it an attempt to protect the “dictatorship” of Indira Gandhi and an “ugly attempt to curb human rights”.

Emergency was a very personal experience for Kartik Nijhawan, 21, who grew up with his father telling him stories from the Emergency period.

“My father, as an avid reader, often spoke about how the period was a major attack on media. I have learnt how newspapers had to go through the difficulty of installing generators to print papers because their power supply was cut on the orders of the regime in power — an experience unimaginable in today’s world filled with so many forms of media,” Nijhawan told IANS.

“This was an attempt to target media particularly and stop people from knowing what was happening in the country. Without media, which was mainly print media during that time, it would have been highly difficult for people to have any form of information about what the government was up to,” Nijhawan added.

Suraj Singh, 24, a digital media professional from Delhi said: “It was a procedure put in place to protect Indira Gandhi’s dictatorship.”

Suraj Singh added: “It was an ugly attempt to curb human rights and many people were arrested and many were even killed during the period. I think the effect is seen even till today in many families who have been put through the Emergency.”

For Sahana Manjesh, 25, a Delhi-based advocate, keeping memories of Emergency alive in memories helps putting today’s India in perspective. “Emergency is not part of the lived consciousness for my generation even though it was unfolded to me through my parents,” Manjesh told IANS.

“Keeping Emergency in mind helps in ensuring that media remains free regardless of how chaotic it may get at times.”

“As a student of law, I have read about Emergency testing the independence of the judiciary like never before. The highest court of law passed a judgment, that allowed the civil liberties to be curtailed — when, in fact, the apex court should have shielded against the Emergency — a reminder that courts, too, can err,” Manjesh said.

“I would like to believe that the experience has made us wary of an encore,” Manjesh said.

The then prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency in India, citing grave threat to her government and sovereignty of the country from both internal and external forces.

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