The story of the Emergency: When the Indian press faced its darkest period

The story of the Emergency: When the Indian press faced its darkest period

World Press Freedom Day: Why did Indira Gandhi ban the press? Political pundits say they were “threatened by growing criticism of the government.”
The story of the Emergency: When the Indian press faced its darkest period

World Press Freedom Day: Media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy in India. However, under Indira Gandhi’s rule, independent journalism suffered a major setback. When he advised the then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed on June 25, 1975 to declare a national emergency. As early as June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi said on All India Radio, “The President has declared a state of emergency.” There is nothing to worry about. A 21-month state of emergency has been declared in the country to control internal unrest. After which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended the constitutional rights and also took back the freedom of the press. Banning all domestic and international news, the then Prime Minister expelled many foreign journalists and correspondents from the country. While withdrawing identities from more than 40 Indian journalists.

Why did Indira Gandhi ban the press?

Why the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi banned the press is a matter of debate. Many historians believe he was threatened by growing criticism of his government. He feared that the media was supporting the movement started by J. Prakash Narayan. However, Indira alleged that foreign powers were trying to destabilize her government and weaken the country. The former prime minister had defended his move, saying the country’s security was at stake because of the JP movement.

How did Indira Gandhi ban the press?

Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression to all Indians. However, Article 19 (2) imposes some reasonable restrictions on this freedom. It states that nothing in sub-section (a) of clause (1) shall affect the application of existing law, or prevent the State from enacting any law. As far as such a law is concerned, it imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right granted. Indira Gandhi’s government used it to ban the press and control it for more than a year and a half.

What are the restrictions imposed by the government?

The Indira Gandhi government had given necessary instructions to the press during the emergency. Kalpana Sharma, a former editor of Himmat, said media outlets were told to ignore the rumors and publish the story only with the permission of the Chief Press Adviser. The position of Chief Press Advisor was created to censor the news. As reported by Times Now, Sharma said, where the news is clearly worrying. There the newspapers would suppress the Chief Press Adviser and help him. In addition, the government used the money allocated for government advertisements to manipulate media outlets, especially newspapers. Newspapers in those days relied heavily on government advertising for revenue. This made it difficult for him to run his own business. Journalists were also threatened.

How did the press react to the sanctions?

After the initial protests, most of the Indian media organizations abandoned the fight following the sanctions imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. However, there were some organizations like The Indian Express and The Statesman. Who continued the war against the 1975 Emergency. Most of the journalists of that time said that the media organization had no choice but to accept the demands of the government. Indian Express reporter NV Sankaran had once said that the Indira Gandhi government wants to destroy newspapers by delaying approval.

Most of the journalists of that time said that the media organization had no choice but to accept the demands of the government. Indian Express reporter NV Sankaran, popularly known as Giani Sankaran, once said that Indira Gandhi’s government wanted to delete newspapers by delaying approval.

Another well-known journalist, Khushwant Singh, supported the emergency. In Outlook, he stated his reasons for supporting the emergency. He said that the protest against the Indira Gandhi government had turned violent. I saw with my own eyes the processions chanting slogans passing through the streets of Mumbai, breaking the windows of cars and shops. Local police failed to stop them because they were few and far between. Singh said the leaders of the opposition parties saw the country slipping into chaos. He hoped that growing anarchy would force Gandhi to resign.

How did the sanctions end?

The Emergency ended in January 1977. With the end of the Emergency, new Lok Sabha elections were held in India. In which the Janata Party under the leadership of J. Prakash Narain won. This was the first time in the history of India that the Congress lost the Lok Sabha elections. The party won only 154 seats, while the Janata Party and its allies won 330 seats. Journalists and political pundits believe that growing public outrage has forced Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to end the emergency and call for new elections. Murarji Desai was later made the Prime Minister of the country. Who took many steps to restore freedom of the press in the country.


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