"Shah Commission Report - Lost And Regained": The Dark History Of 'The Emergency' Republished
28 June, 2015
This is the 40th anniversary of Indian Emergency, or 'Indira Gandhi' dictatorship.The Emergency was declared on 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977. The order issued by the President of India bestowed upon the Prime Minister the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed. During this period thousands of political opponents of Indira Gandhi were imprisoned, tortured in prison and thousands were killed or 'disappeared'. The press was censored. Several other atrocities were committed during the time, including forced mass-sterilisation of millions of people, spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi, the Prime Minister's son.
In the following election Indira Gandhi's Congress party lost the election by a huge margin and a coalition government headed by Janata Party came to power.
The Janata Party government headed by Morarji Deasi constituted an enquiry commission to inquire into all the excesses committed in the Indian Emergency. It was headed by Justice J.C. Shah, a former chief Justice of India.
The commission published its report on the illegal events during the emergency and the persons responsible in three volumes totaling 525 pages. The first interim report was submitted on 11 March 1978, dealing with the lead-up to the declaration of the Emergency and the way in which the press was prevented from speaking out. The second interim report discussed police actions and the role of Sanjay Gandhi at the Turkman Gate incident in which police fired on a
crowd of people protesting against demolition of their houses. The final report was issued on 6 August 1978 and covered prison conditions, torture and forced mass-sterilisation atrocities.
Indira Gandhi attempted to recall copies of the report wherever possible way. Era Sezhian, an Indian parliamentarian has republished his copy of the report in a book form called "Shah Commission Report - Lost and Regained".
On this 40th anniversary of Emergency, a silent emergency is prevailing in India. Thousands of under-trials are wallowing in prison while criminals found guilty by the courts of the land roam free. A war is declared on the Adivasis and farmers who are trying to protect their forests and farms. Their forests and farms are forcefully taken away and given to industrialists at a pittance. Thousands of farmers are committing suicide every year and nothing is being done by the government. The right to freedom expression is being violated.
Even the 'Iron Man' of Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) L.K.Advani recently said that the recurrence of Emergency can not be ruled out. He further clarified that the arrogance of leaders leads to authoritarianism, taking a dig at the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi's style of governance. Incidentally, Advani spent 18 months in jail for opposing the Emergency. To snub Advani for his forthright comment BJP did not invite him to an event where it honoured those who went to jail during the Emergency.
In this context we are republishing the Shah Commission report:
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