Every anniversary of Emergency in India (June 25, 1975) and worn-out clichés on muzzling media, despotic Indira, state repression and the complicity of judiciary begin to do rounds. Now a senior journalist Arun Anand has done a piece in Indian Express edits which deserves everyone’s attention.
Two takeaways from Anand’s piece would bring a silent chuckle on the faces of millions who are relentlessly resisting and overthrowing the Tukde-Tukde gang inch-by-inch in the last half-a-dozen years. Those on the other side of the divide, the Congress-Left-Sickular “ecosystem”, would surely be squirming in discomfort.
Anand quotes from an article, “The Empress Reigns Supreme”, published in August 1976 in The Guardian: “…Pro-CPI (Communist Party of India) journals in India are being given some latitude by the censors because the party is in favour of even stronger measures to suppress the non-communist opposition.” Communist leader Sitaram Yechury, a savvy Twitterati who short of blaming BJP for everything but cataract in his eye, surely deserves a forward of this piece. A reaction from him though is a long shot.
The same article goes on to state that the Indira government was pressurizing King Birendra of Nepal to hand over some of the RSS members who were running the underground movement against the Emergency from Nepal. The article, quoting a source, said: “…Kathmandu will never hand over to the Indian government members of the RSS, banned by the Gandhi regime shortly after the promulgation of Emergency.” So please be easy on Rahul Gandhi, the RSSphobia is in his genes.
The article has some interesting anecdotes on the fate of foreign journalists present in India when the Emergency was declared. Anand informs us that the correspondent from The Washington Post was expelled from India within four days of the draconian imposition. The correspondents from The Times (London), Daily Telegraph, Newsweek and Far Eastern Economic Review didn’t budge and hence had to leave the Indian shores. They fell foul of the “Press Censorship Guidelines” issued by Information & Broadcasting ministry, headed by Vidya Charan Shukla. The BBC had to shut its office in 1975. Accreditations of many foreign journalists were cancelled. One, KR Sundar Rajan, was even detained under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Christopher Sweeney, a correspondent for The Guardian and The Economist, gave an account of his ordeal thus:
“…I came under obvious suspicion within days of my arrival in the country…after arranging meetings by telephone, odd characters would turn up to observe who I was seeing each morning, others would be waiting in red sarees in the entrance of the Delphi hotel. People I spoke to openly would be later stopped and questioned. At least twice my hotel room was broken into and searched…
“When I complained of the continued harassment by the Government agents and asked Mr Haksar (A.N.D Haskar was the chief government spokesperson) to explain why it had been necessary to organize breakings to my hotel rooms, he replied that unless I left the country as soon as possible, there ‘would be a further prospect of physical inconvenience’.”
Don’t you now sympathize with Lutyens Media who dug themselves deep under the soil to avoid the searchlight of The Emergency? I mean poor guys what could they have done but wag their tails? Don’t you have the decency to shame them now, 40-odd years hence, for the sins of their predecessors? Isn’t there a mountain of material to shame them on their own sins?
Anand is matter-of-fact on the Emergency but unwittingly he has held forth a mirror, be it on Congress, Left or Indian media—the order of the “ecosystem” is more or less same to our day. The only difference is unlike today, the foreign press of those days was singing paeans in praise of RSS.
Sample a piece titled “Yes, there is an underground” published in The Economist:
“The shock troops of the (underground) movement largely come from Jana Sangh and its ideological affiliate, the RSS, which claim a combined membership of 10 million (of whom 80,000 including 6,000 full-time party workers are in prison).”
So, the Communists supported the Emergency and RSS resisted it tooth and nail. Delicious, isn’t it.