After Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s criticism of the Emergency period, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday called for inclusion of 1975 Emergency in the curriculum to remind the youth of the “darkest hour” of Indian democracy and the value of liberty and freedom they enjoy. Also Read - Late Arun Jaitley's Son Rohan Files Nomination For DDCA President's Post
“It is time the dark age of Emergency becomes a part of the curriculum so that present generations are sensitised to the dreaded events of 1975-77 and they learn to value the democratic and personal freedoms they enjoy today,” said the vice president at the release of Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Gujarati versions of the Book ‘Emergency: Indian Democracy’s Darkest Hour’. Also Read - 'May Everyone be Blessed With Joy, Good Health': PM Modi, Vice President Naidu Extend Onam Greetings
“While our history books and textbooks talk of medieval dark days and the British Raj, the fallacious causes and consequences of Emergency is not made a part of the learning of the young,” he added. Also Read - 'Miss my Friend a Lot,' Says PM Modi on 1st Death Anniversary of Arun Jaitley; Many Political Leaders Pay Tribute
Emergency was clamped by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975 and citizens’ fundamental rights were suspended. It was lifted with the 1977 general election.
Urging people to be “guardians of liberties” of fellow countrymen, Naidu asserted that “intolerant” citizens who violate freedoms of others are no Indians.
“On the 43rd anniversary of the Emergency, I would like the message to go out that any citizen who violates the freedoms of fellow citizen would have no right to be called an Indian. It is because he is hurting the Constitution of India and all that India stood for ages.”
Furthering his criticism of the Emergency, Naidu said that no “sensible” government would dare to resort to Emergency after people in 1977 resounded a pro-democracy verdict. He added that now the threat to individual freedom is from some misguided citizens.
“I am confident that no sensible government would repeat what was done during the fateful night of June 25, 1975. That was clearly a State sponsored ‘Intolerance’ to democracy and individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. But we need to guard against intolerance on the part of certain misguided citizens,” he said.
During his speech, Naidu recounted 33 aberrations that “sterilised democracy” and “destroyed the Constitution”. He also recalled several acts of repression against the media.
Naidu lamented that even the Supreme Court became “a mute party to placing some individuals above the law”.
“It was only Justice H.R. Khanna that dared to differ with the government’s position … and asserted that ‘the Constitution and the law of India does not permit life and liberty to be at the mercy of the absolute power of the Executive’.
“He paid a price for his conscience by losing out on the office of the Chief Justice of India. I see him as one of the great heroes of what I call the second freedom struggle. The other being Ramnath Goenka of the Indian Express,” Naidu said.
He said the one good thing that flowed from the Emergency was “an unequivocal assertion” by the people that they value their freedom “much more than their bread”.
“We need to keep this spirit alive,” he said.
“We need to guard against ‘intolerance’ on the part of certain misguided citizens. We have been occasionally witnessing such words and deeds of intolerance by some citizens in the name of so-called cow protection, Love Jihad, eating habits, watching films.
“Such incidents lead us to the point that individual freedoms can be in full play only when every citizen respects such freedoms of fellow citizens… The core Indian values and ethos have no place for intolerance.”
He said post Emergency, the State “would think twice before riding roughshod over the liberties and freedoms of citizens”.
Naidu recalled that “in the name of internal disturbance”, those seen as a threat to the government were jailed.
They included Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Biju Patnaik, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Chandra Shekhar, Charan Singh, Nanaji Deshmukh, Balasaheb Deoras, H.D. Deve Gowda, Ram Vilas Paswan and Nitish Kumar among others.
Naidu said he himself went underground for two months, coordinating resistance to the Emergency but was then arrested and jailed for over 17 months.
Naidu said those jailed during the Emergency also include several current Union Ministers such as Arun Jaitely, Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javdekar.
(With IANS inputs)