Monday, December 6, 2021

46 Years of Emergency: The Darkest political period of the country

46 years ago, in 1975, former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed along with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi proclaimed National Emergency across India under Article 352(1) of the Constitution. The following morning, Independent India woke up to witness the beginning of the darkest political period of the country that lasted for 21 months until its withdrawal on March 21, 1977.

The final decision to impose an Emergency was proposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who cited the reason for the emergency as imminent internal and external threats to the Indian state. During this period, the government crackdown on civil liberties, violations of human rights including a forced mass-sterilisation campaign spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi, the youngest son of Indira Gandhi. To quell the voices against the decision, freedom of the press was curtailed & elections were suspended.

Today, June 25, 2021, marks the completion of 46 years to the Emergency Period in India, which is still considered as one of the darkest chapters in the history of this country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 43rd anniversary of the imposition of an emergency on June 26, 2021.

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982 defended the Emergency while addressing a public meeting election speech in Paonta Sahib, Himachal Pradesh.


The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Independence Day Speech on 15th August 1976 when the emergency had been imposed across India and consequently fundamental rights had been suspended.

Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for “internal disturbance”, the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. The order bestowed upon the Prime Minister the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed.

Several atrocities were reported from the time of the Emergency, including a forced mass sterilisation campaign spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi. The Emergency is one of the most controversial periods of independent India’s history.

Sanjay Gandhi addresses a public rally during the emergency era in Bikaner, Rajasthan in 1976.

Political unrest against the government began brewing in 1973 because the opposition saw Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as too powerful, even as corruption allegations began to mount.

The event that triggered the Emergency took place on June 12, 1975, when the Allahabad high court found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractice.

During the Emergency, Indira Gandhi launched a massive crackdown on Political Opposition. The government placed thousands of protestors under preventive detention.

Addressing a rally in Madurai for the 1977 general elections, Indira Gandhi talks about Democracy, Dictatorship and Fascism.

For much of the Emergency, most of Gandhi’s political opponents were imprisoned and the press was censored.

1977 General Elections – Morarji Desai addresses a rally in Nagaon for the 1977 General Elections where he talks about the atrocities during the Emergency.

The Emergency Period in India is still considered one of the darkest chapters in the history of this country.

The question that follows the period which is considered as the most controversial period in Indian history is what led to the Emergency & how it threatened India’s Democracy.

Morarji Desai addresses a rally in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh for the 1977 General Elections.


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