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On This Day in 1975: A State of Emergency was Declared in India

On this day in 1975 an Emergency was imposed in India by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The Emergency remained in effect for a 21-month period from June 25 1975 to March 21 1977. President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed proclaimed Emergency due to internal disturbances under Article 352 of the Constitution of India on the recommendations of the government led by PM Indira Gandhi.

The Emergency is often regarded as a dark phase in the history of India’s democracy as the period marked suspension of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, state censorship on media and crackdown on civil liberties.

What is Emergency?

The Article 352 of the Indian Constitution proclaims that the President of India can declare a National Emergency if the security of the country is at stake and is threatened by either war, external aggression, or internal disturbance/armed rebellion.

How Was Emergency Declared In 1975?

On the night of June 25, within hours of dialogue between PM Gandhi and President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a National Emergency was declared. Multiple opposition leaders were arrested.

According to reports, the government allegedly cut the power supply of newspapers and media houses in Delhi so that no word gets out, and in the next morning Indira Gandhi, announced the Emergency on All India Radio.

Role of Jayaprakash Narayan

Jayaprakash Narayan was a leader and activist in Bihar who led massive protests against the Indira Gandhi-led government in the years preceding 1975. Jayaprakash Narayan, also known as JP, had given a call for total revolution to reform the system and fight against corruption and inflation. He held PM Indira Gandhi responsible for all the problems the country was facing.

On June 12, 1975, Allahabad High Court held Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and barred her from holding any public office for 6 years. Her election from UP’s Rae Bareli constituency in 1971 Lok Sabha elections was annulled. After this Indira Gandhi appealed in the Supreme Court and continued in the office as the Prime Minister.

However, Jayaprakash Narayan intensified the protests for ouster of Indira Gandhi from office. He declared to hold a rally at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on June 25.

Developments After proclamation of Emergency

The Emergency period in the country saw the arrest of over one lakh people who were protesting or raising their voice against the Central government. Many opposition leaders and activists went underground. State elections also got delayed due to the emergency.

After the Emergency was lifted, Lok Sabha elections were held again, in which Indira Gandhi lost, and for the first time since Independence, a party other than the Congress, came to power. In the mid-term election held in March 1977, even Indira Gandhi faced a crushing defeat.

Emergency In India before 1975

India has been in a state of emergency two times before 1975. In 1962, during the Indo-China War, and in 1971, during the Indo-Pakistan War, an emergency was declared in the country.

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