Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday invoked the curtailment of press freedom during the Emergency under the Congress rule to assert that media freedom is the essence of democracy.

Speaking to the media after taking charge of the ministry, Javadekar said the government not only recognises freedom of the press, but cherishes it.

“Press freedom is the essence of democracy and we not only recognise it, we cherish it. In the history of free India, only once this freedom of the press was curtailed and that was in 1975 during Emergency brought by the then Congress government,” he said.

“That was the black period for the media, there was everyday censorship and complete curtailment of press freedom. We fought against it under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani ji,” Javadekar said.

He said the leaders fought on two-three main issues during Emergency and press freedom was one of them.

“I am very happy that it was restored after our struggle was successful. I also fought and went to jail for 16 months. So for us, press freedom is the basic essence of democracy,” he said.

Asserting that with freedom comes responsibility, Javadekar said media already works in this responsible atmosphere and will continue to do so in the days to come.

“That will strengthen democracy. Therefore I am very happy to take charge. We all will work together hand in hand to take this mission to inform people forward,” he said.

Javadekar also hailed the work done by Rajyavardhan Rathore, M Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley, who were in charge of the ministry earlier.

The 68-year-old, who also has the charge of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Ministry, held several portfolios in the first Narendra Modi government.