New Delhi: The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will observe June 25, the date when Emergency was imposed in 1975 by the then PM Indira Gandhi, as 'black day'.
The Emergency refers to a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977. It was officially issued by the then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution due to prevailing 'internal disturbance'. The Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977.
Indira had imposed the Emergency after the Allahabad HC and subsequently, the Supreme Court found her election to the Lok Sabha 'null and void'. With protests and strikes sweeping the country after the SC's judgement, the then government had stated that the country was 'paralysed' after a hard-fought war with Pakistan and had justified the imposition of the Emergency by citing threats to national security.
During this 22-month period, Indira had invoked Article 352 of the Constitution to grant herself 'extraordinary powers' and had launched a massive crackdown on 'civil liberties' and political rivals, arresting opposition leaders like Vijayaraje Scindia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani.
Censuring of the media and 'forced sterilisation drives', undertaken by Indira's younger son Sanjay Gandhi, also unfolded during the period. After the Emergency officially ended, fresh elections were called, with the Congress losing by a large margin, resulting in the Janata Party's Morarji Desai becoming the first non-Congress PM of India.
In June 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the Emergency was the darkest time in the history of India. In his monthly radio programme 'Mann ki Baat', he had said that it was essential to remember the incidents which have caused harm to democracy and move ahead towards the positives of democracy.
PM Modi had remembered that democracy-lovers had fought a big battle against the Emergency and had said that the pro-democracy 'heritage' needs to be strengthened.
"Democracy is not only a system. It is our culture. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," he had said. "It was such a black night which cannot be forgotten by any lover of democracy. No Indian can forget it," the PM had added. He had further said that the entire nation had been converted into a prison, with opposing voices being curbed.
(With Agency inputs)