H C Singh

Assassination of Indira Gandhi and its Aftermath

After attack on Golden Temple and demolition of Akal Takhat by Indian Army authorized by Indira Gandhi, it is said that Prime Minister was warned by intelligence agencies that there could be attempt on her life. She was even advised to do away with Sikh members of her personal body guards. But she rejected the suggestion saying that ‘aren’t we secular’ ( The Times). She did not, realize the gravity of attack on Golden Temple on Sikhs, or not forgetting that British General Dyer who had ordered indiscriminate firing in Jallianwale Bagh in April 1919 killing more than 400 peaceful Punjabi’s was shot dead in London by Udham Singh, a Sikh who waited for years. Thus Indira Gandhi who had masterminded the attacks on Golden Temple or even Gian Zail Singh who was President but could not do anything to prevent the attack, by resigning or even threatening to resign, were likely to be targets.

On 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi was shot at point blank and killed by her two Sikh body guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh early in the morning while walking from her residence to her adjoining office. Both Beant Singh and Satwant Singh had gone to Punjab to meet their families. It seems that they were shocked to hear and see the impact of operation Blue Star on not only those who had lost their Kith and Kin in Golden Temple on Guru Arjan’s martyrdom day but even ordinary Sikhs who must have wept while telling the atrocities and death of hundreds of innocent old Sikh peasants, women and children, besides thousands of men. Indiscriminate violence against sikhs began on the 31st October night, after Rajiv Gandhi had been sworn in as P.M after 6 pm. Till then Indira Gandhi’s death had not been announced on AIR though she had died on the spot and had been brought dead to the AIIMS hospital.

Assassination of Indira Gandhi or some VIP like Zail Singh or other was feared as Operation Blue Star was an attack on Golden Temple, on the Sikh religion and sikh honour. More than 10,000 Sikh had been butchered indiscriminately including old men, women and children by a cleverly manipulated crisis by Indira Gandhi to humiliate the Sikhs with a view to pose in the next election as a Durga—goddess of Hindus, because Indira Gandhi had lost hope of winning South and East India.

Some reaction even, violent reaction to be PM’s assassination was feared. But it could not, by any stretch of imagination, be thought that Congress, second line of leadership will lead the gangs, organize arson, loot and murder of Sikh’s simultaneously in many towns, Railway trains and buses Killing of Sikhs continued for 4 days with active participation of local police force.

We were eye witness to these traumatic happenings when Gurdwara just across our house was being gharoaed stoned and burnt and Holy Granth thrown and burnt. The details of these 1947-partition, like riots in the Capital can be best seen in Indian Express of Nov 1 to Nov 20. From the rough estimates it is gathered that more than 10,000 Sikhs perished in this “Nadirshahi” of Congress in certain cases there were 3 to 4 windows in one family done.

The Sikhs outside Punjab were hostages at the mercy of the hoodlums who could be organized, financed and instigated to commit unprintable crimes against Sikh men, women and children whether they happened to be poor workers in jhugis and settlement colonies or rich business men in posh colonies, middle class workers traveling to and from office or sikh army officers going to duty. Even clean shaven sikh truck drivers who are just sikhs by birth, neither extremists nor religious , all who were unfortunate on the days when hell itself was let loose, were mercilessly beaten and burnt alive.

In this genocide of Sikhs more than 25,000 sikhs were Killed—burnt alive by pouring kerosene on their heads in the presence of their wives, children, sisters and mothers. Some were burnt by putting burning tyres in their necks, some were killed with steel rods supplied by hooligans and Congress workers, some were dragged out of their houses, there hands tied with one end of there turbans and with the other end of turban tied on their necks, they were dragged and killed.

Sikh’s women were molested and raped in the presence of their husbands, sons and young daughters and old mothers. Such inhuman torture and killing of Sikhs went on for 4 days while police was just on lookers. Even policemen did not come forward to save the life or honour of such women victims.

It was not only Delhi, though Delhi was the worst sight of slaughter of Sikhs but in cities like Kanpur where 500 sikhs perished in the same way and dozen of other towns, in trains and buses. This was something like partition riots of 1947. In 1947 when trains full of dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus reached Punjab, when about a million of Sikhs and Hindus were butchered, Sikhs retaliated by killing Muslims in Punjab and sending their dead bodies to Pakistan. This retaliation helped to end massacre of Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan. But in Delhi in 1984 where Sikhs were hardly 5 percent and it was their own country, could not and did not retaliate. They only suffered silently for 4-5 days, and wept for days, months and years, but no justice was done. Not a single criminal was found guilty and sentenced to death or imprisonment. Khushwant Singh, eminent journalist and writer in his book My Bleeding Punjab writers:

“ At break of dawn of 1st November, the anti Sikh pogrom got going in right earnets. Truckloads of hoodlums armed with steel rods, jerry cans full of Kerosene oil and petrol went round the city setting fire to gurdwaras. One adjacent to my apartment was raided by a gang which threw out the carpets, the canopy along with the holy book, the Granth, in the courtyard and made a bonfire of them. They roughed up the 65 year old priest. The gang departed taking the Gurdwara money box amid shouts of “Indira Gandhi Zindabad”.

“ In the heart of New Delhi’s main shopping center, Connaught Circus, Sikh owned furnitures shops were set ablaze while crowds cheered and police looked on. There were no signs of grief over the death of Prime Minister but plenty of envy, hate and malicious pleasure at seeing Sikhs who had done better than they being cut to size”.

Khushwant Singh adds about his own grief panic and reaction:

“ I awaited my turn. I felt like a partridge in a partridge shoot waiting to be flushed out of cover and shot on the wing. For the first time I realized what jews must have felt like in Nazi Germany…. Get out of your place was the repetitive advice (to Khushwant Singh by his well wishers). But go where and how? They were killing Sikhs in trains, buses, taxis, scooters. The killings assumed the proportion of genocide of Sikh’s community.
I had half an hour to pack up. I wrenched off the nameplate from my door. What could I take with me from my home where I had lived ever since I had been driven out of Pakistan. They could have the bloody lot ( all my belongings ). Thirty seven years ago I left the same kind of stuff to Pakistan, now I would leave to Hindustan”.

“Romesh Thapar bundled us into the Car of a diplomat. We found sanctuary in the home of Rolf and Jeanne Gauffin of the Swedish Embassy. In my own homeland I had become a refugee, deprived of my birth right to mourn the assassination of my Prime Minister. Instead I mourned the deaths of thousands of men who were killed for no other reason than that they happened to belong to the same community as the Prime Minister assassins.” (My Bleeding Punjab).

Retired Supreme Court Justice V.M.Tarkunde, concluded in his report ‘ the carnage (of Sikhs) was orchestrated by Congress’. “ According to it plans for their massacre (of Sikhs) were nurtured by party leaders on the night of 31st October…Kerosene was collected, killers were gathered from both inside and outside the localities, Jhuggis (huts) and houses of Sikhs identified”.

The “SUNDAY” a widely circulated weekly from Calcutta, described Rajiv Gandhi’s silence on the subject as “ the first black mark he has got on his otherwise clean image”.

“Police instead of curbing violence by taking action against the killers of Sikhs in 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. The role of Delhi Police in preventing any viable Sikh defence is well testified. In a number of cases, Police personnel confiscated licensed fire arms from Sikh’s and shot at the defenders if they resisted”. (Religion Violence and Political Mobilisation).

Following quotations are from book by Manoj Mitra and H.S. Phoolka:
‘When a Tree Shook Delhi’.

It must be said that Mr Phoolka is a very eminent lawyer who has been fighting right from the beginning for justice for victims of 1984 Genocide of Sikhs.

Annexures from book when a Tree Shook Delhi by Mr Mitra and Sardar H.S. Phoolka. Again, “It would be startling to note that General Arora hero of 1971 war against Pakistan and who received surrender from Pakistan’s General Niazi who had agreed to hand area 90,000 Pakistani soldiers to Indian Army as Prisoners of War, had to be escorted and took shelter in the house Shri I.K. Gujral.”

‘Zail’s car stoned, panic in Delhi’ was a headline in The Telegraph, which said: ‘ The President’s motorcade, as it proceeded towards AIIMS from the airport, was heavily brickbatted. Three cars in the motorcade were damaged, though the President, who was in his bulletproof car, was unaffected.’

In his affidavit before the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, the first judicial inquiry ordered in 1985, Jagjit Singh gave an eyewitness account of the second attack on President Zail Singh. “ All the stone pelting, he said, was done by a small group which raised slogans such as ‘Giani Murdabad’ (Down with Zail Singh), ‘Sardar gaddar hai’ (Sikhs are traitors) and ‘Khoon ka badla khhon’ (Avenge murder with murder).”

As hundreds of affidavits were filed during and after1984 anti-Sikh riots and placed before the justice Ranga Nath Mishra Commission Jain-Aggarwal Committee was set up by Government to examine all these affidavits. After fully examining these affidavits , Jain-Aggarwal Committee submitted its report to the Lt Governor of Delhi, as required on 6th August 1993.The report highlighted the “colossal indifference towards the loss of human life and property of the Sikhs.” The committee also stated that the police, in many cases either did not register FIRs or deliberately misregistered them and subsequently “sabotaged” the investigation so that the cases could not stand up in court as many did.

It is noteworthy that the Jain-Aggarwal committee in view of its findings “recommended severe punishment for 298 dishonest police officers, the registration of 333 fresh cases and reinvestigation of 129 other cases to undo the misdeeds of earlier investigations. The committee also indicted many local congress functionaries who later on went on to become M P’s and Ministers for instigating and leading the rioters. No wonder no action has been taken against officials like the Police Commissioner S.C.Tondon who was rewarded by crucial appointment after retirement” ( Pioneer dt 19-08-93).

Had the guilty police officers and congress leaders and personnel listed by Jain-Aggarwal committee been punished, there would not have been demolition of Babri Masjid and consequent riots in many states particularly UP and Maharashtra, Bombay in particular casting thousands of lives, disturbing peace and harmony, now, between Hindus and Muslims.

It is regrettable and painful for all Sikhs all over the world and also thousands of non Sikhs and non Punjabis all over India that not a single Culprit and Criminal out of hundreds of politicians, policemen and paid ruffians has been convicted and punished even after 25 years when more than 10,000 Sikhs were massacred in the genocide of Sikhs in 1984. It is slur on our politicians and on our democracy.

Excerpts of testimonies before the Misra and Nanavati Commissions:
Writer Patwant Singh before the Nanavati Commission ….
“That Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh (Retd), Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora (Retd.), Brig. Sukhjit Singh (Retd.), S. Gurbachan Singh and I called on the President of India in the morning of 1 November 1984. We spent one hour with the President and told him that numerous Sikhs were being killed all over the capital, emphatically spelling out for him the violence overtaking the Sikhs throughout the city. We made clear that he as the President was morally and constitutionally bound to put an end to it. He replied, ‘I do not have powers to intervene.”

Former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan before the Nanavati Commission….

“ That we visited Shakarpur, Pandav Nagar, and several east Delhi’s colonies, and rescued many trapped Sikh families, and took them to the nearest Gurdwara….We also saw many dead bodies of Sikhs who had been killed, and some bodies were still burning.”

Former Finance Minister Madhu Dandavate before the Misra Commission

“When the train reached Tughlakabad Station (on the suburbs of Delhi) on 2 November morning, a large number of persons carrying iron rods, axes, crow bars, etc. entered our train. They declared that no Sikh would be allowed to leave the train alive. At that time, I found that some Sikhs in the adjoining compartments were pulled down by those outsiders carrying weapons. I found two Sikhs killed and thrown on the platform, and then their dead bodies were set on fire on the platform. The police standing on the platform made no efforts to prevent either the killing or burning of the Sikhs.”

In october 84 I had gone on leave to my home in Delhi and was witness to destroying the Gurudwara opposite our house in Janak Puri B-1 Block and burning of Holy Guru Granth Sahib and throwing our in Nallah other copies of Holy Granth Sahib. Even my house was locked and glass panes of drawing room broken. Luckily my tenant in first floor was an Air force officer Squadron Leader. He came down immediately and faced the mob, saying this is my house and thus our family and our house was saved. It was a miracle. For three days and nights we did not move out. Then and there I decided that I shall not go back to Lucknow to join duty in the institute. So I applied for voluntary retirement and remained on leave for 3 months till Feb 28 when I went to handover charge and say goodbye to Director and the Institute.

Before concluding the chapter on assassination of Indira Gandhi and its aftermath. I would like to reproduce my four poems which I wrote in those days and were first published in my Punjabi book ‘Payyar Te Rossa’ and afterwards I translated these poems and included in my book ‘ Pluralist Politics and Poems of Revance Love and Sorrow’.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | India, Religion, Sikhism | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Declaration of Emergency June 75

Indira Gandhi declared emergency in the night of June 25-26-1975. There were individual cases of protests especially by the students of Delhi University for a couple of months as in an obituary notice in The Times of India, ‘death of Mrs Democracy wife of Mr Freedom’. But by and large the people took it casually. No political party except the Akali Dal took up the challenge. ‘According to Amnesty International,1,40,000 persons were detained without trial during emergency and of them 60,000 were Sikhs.’ (quoted from Inder Malhotra ‘Indira Gandhi a Personal and Political Biography’ (London 1989) p 178) As Akali agitation was going with greater intensity despite MISA and other laws to punish the agitators, Indira sent emissaries Amrinder Singh and Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian. But they failed in getting Akalis to withdraw agitation even during a deal including a formation of a coalition government in Punjab with Akalis ( from Mark Tully and Satish Jacob , Amritsar Mrs Gandhi’s lost Battle London 1985) Because of failure of compromise due to effort of Amrinder Singh and other Mrs Gandhi took up, in revenge, to inflict injury to Sikhs and Punjab. Firstly, as Sangat Singh says in his book The Sikhs in History, she came up with award in March 25 1976 allocating the waters and Hydal Power of the punjab rivers under section 78 of Punjab Reorganization Act of 1966 to Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Punjab. Indira now used the discretion with malice and vengeance to award 75% of waters to neighbouring non-riparian states to create in them vested interest to the deteriment of legal rights of Punjab. Secondly, the Defence Ministry for the first time issued orders for recruitment in the armed forces based on the quotas to provinces on the basis of population. This was designed to reduce the intake and content of the Sikhs in armed forces to just two percent.

The Sikhs were asked to pay a very heavy price for their uprightness and standing up to the dictatorial perceptions of Indira Gandhi.

Even a non-political princess like Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was not spared.

As explained before Indira Gandhi got the President to sign the proclamation of Emergency because Supreme Court in its interim order had disallowed her to vote in Parliament though she could attend Parliament till final order of Supreme Court. It is thus evident that the Emergency was proclaimed , so that she could continue PM without waiting for the decision of S.C which could go either way. The moment this historic proclamation was singed by the President, Indira Gandhi became bold and ordered switching off power supply to all News Papers so that there was no issue in the morning with any editorial or comments on the issue of Emergency. On the morning of 26th June she addressed the nation on AIR trying to justify the issue of Proclamation of Emergency. Here are some extracts from her speech:-

The President has proclaimed the emergency. This is nothing to panic about. I am sure you all are conscious of deep and widespread conspiracy, which has been ever since I began to introduce certain progressive measures of benefit to the Common man and Woman of India… Certain persons have gone to the length of muting our armed faces to mutiny and our police to rebel…..The forces of disintegration are in full play and Communal passion’s are being aroused threatening our, unity…..This is not a personal matter. It is not important whether remain Prime Minister or not…….. May I appeal for your continued cooperation and trust in the days ahead.

In the first session of Parliament on July 23 after Emergency few opposition leaders who were not yet arrested, protested vehemently on the imposition of Emergency just to allow Indira Gandhi to continue as PM despite SC verdict against her. Shri A K Gopalan the seasoned CPM leader said that large scale arrest of men and women since imposition of Emergency had reduced Parliament to a farce and object of contempt “ But CPI’s Inderjit Gupta supported Emergency and went so for as to say that Jayaparkash Narain through agitation of over one year wanted to seize power in many states”.

On the other hand a Jan Sangh MP openly accused Indira Gandhi of betraying the motherland for the sake of personal ends’. Thereafter the opposition MP’s either bycotted the parliament or were arrested or sent to jail. In the first three months of Emergency it is reported that 80,000 people had been put behind bar, both men and women.

Besides satyagraha by followers of JP who had been arrested on the very first day of Emergency, another leader Manibehn Patel, daughter of Sardar Patel started Satyagraha in Ahmadabad, she and her followers raising slogans in Dandi, famous for Gandhi Ji’s salt Satyagraha known as Dandi March, “Remove Emergency” and release all political prisoners. Even Sardar Patel’s daughter was not spared. She was arrested but the next day a judge ordered her release. Being Sardar Patel’s daughter she continued with the march to the sea with handful of policemen in plainclothes because all her supporters in the precession had been either arrested or beaten by police.

There were intellectuals and men of letters who were upset because of composition of Emergency. Highly respected Kanada novelist Shivranjan Karnath who had joined freedom movement in 20’s under Gandhiji inspiration and was awarded Padma Bhushan, returned the award. Similarly a Hindi novelist Phaneshwaranath RENU returned the award of Padmashri. These intellectuals were inspired by Rabindera Nath Tagore, who had relinquished his Knighthood in protest against Jallianwala Bagh measure by the British Government. Of all the prominent leaders only J.B Kirplani was not arrested. Kirplani had joined independence movement in 1917, many years before Jawahar Lal Nehru joined. He had been Congress President at the time of independence—was not arrested despite his fiery speech on Gandhi ji birthday at Gandhi Ji’s Smadhi Rajghat on 2nd Oct 1975. Kuldeep Nayyar in his book. The Judgment writes that on 2nd oct JB Kirplani, the 85 year old Gandhite was also one of the protesters. “He was first arrested but then released in Kerala, posters even in remote villages appeared to urge the people not to be cowards in front of injustice and tyranny. In April 76 Kirplani asked the government to publish the names of those political leaders who have been arrested during Emergency. He regretted and even complained that why he did not have the ‘privilege’ of being arrested along with JP Desai and other leaders.

After six weeks of Emergency Sanjay Gandhi, Indira’s son became virtual Deputy P M with almost exclusive powers . Even his mother the PM started referring all congress leaders and Ministers to consult Sanjay. So from that day Sanjay’s words or orders became law. None could dare oppose him or even suggest an alternative or give advice or opinion. In his first long interview after Emergency he said that his mother always consulted and even took his advice. He advocated free enterprise in place of socialist pattern or state ownership, so that his Maruti car will not be behind Fiat and Ambassador. This made fundamental change in the policy of the Government during Emergency.

With proclamation of emergency India, under Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi moved towards dictatorship. Many journalists were arrested for instance Malkani of Motherland Delhi and Jagat Narain of Hind Samachar of Jullundur. On 29th June a meeting of journalists and editors was held at Press Club of India that passed a resolution to protest against the imposition of Press Censorship and urged the Indira Govt to lift the ban and release the journalists that have been arrested.

Kuldeep Nayyar in his book ‘The Judgement’ has quoted from Washington Post Correspondent who was banished from India, Lewis M Sinon, a very infecting para in “Sanjay Gandhi and his Mother” which is reproduced below:

“Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, distrustful of even her closest cabinet colleagues at this time of grave crisis for India, is turning to her contraversial younger son, Sanjay, for help in making major decisions. She is scared to death of him”.

That is the stuff of which Sanjay Gandhi was made of, with no respect or even regard for elders including Cabinet Ministers and high officials and even his mother, who was Prime Minister of India and had imposed on India for the first time and last time to date Emergency so as to remain in power come what way. But she willingly handed over all powers of PM to Sanjay as will be seen from the para quoted from Kuldeep Nayyars Book.

During first couple of months of Emergency 60,000 people had been arrested including Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur and Rajmata of Gwalior and sent to Tihar Jail to stay with common “criminals and prostitutes like living in a bazaar” said Gayatri Devi, one of the most beautiful, sophisticated princess and graceful mother.

From 9th July, Akali’s in Punjab launched a morcha in Punjab against Emergency and offer arrests. “Roughly 45000 Sikhs courted arrests” including Akali top leadership including Parkash Singh Balal. Akali Chief Minister of Punjab and Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC President.

Even prominent Gandhitis like Bhim Sen Sochar, who was a Minister in undivided Punjab before partition and was thereafter Chief Minister of India and Punjab and even was Governor, was arrested for demanding abrogation of Press Censorship and demanding freedom and dignity of individual belonging to one party or another or even not being in active politics.

While R.S.S. had been banned, Eminent opposition leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, S N Mishra of congress (O) and Madhu Dandwate, a socialist, were in jail in Karnatka, Shanti Bhushan an eminent advocate (who later become Law Minister) took up their case in the High Court at Bangalore saying “ We are challenging the entire emergency and the measures that the government has imposed and how they were part of what Mrs Gandhi called ‘the gravely threatening conspiracy’ . Dedicated and fearless lawyers had filed thousands of writs for release of detenues or for improving their living conditions as Princess Gayatri Devi who fell ill in Tihar Jail had said they were living in the ‘bazaar’ of ‘prostitutes’.

Other eminent lawyers like V M Terakunde, former judge of Bombay High Court, Minoo Masani Soli, Sorabjee fought gratis the cases of many detenues. Former justice of a Supreme Court of India M C Chagla said almost all or majority of people in jails thought Indira (about one lakh), do not know ‘ why they are in jail and so they cannot defend themselves’ unless they know the charges against them. But neither Indira nor her son Sanjay had thought or had time for these legal matters. They were busy consolidating their power and ruling the country as a dictatorship like that of Hitler in Germany or Stalin in USSR.

With most of the opposition MP’s locked in jails, a series of constitutional amendments were passed by the Parliament (belonging to congress). The 38th Amendment passed on July 22, 1975 barred judicial review of the emergency. Only two weeks after 39th amendment outlined that election of Prime Minister could not be challenged in any court, including Supreme Court.

To gag the process constitutionally, the Press council an independent watchdog body was abolished. A law ‘granting immunity to journalists covering Parliament was revoked and as many as 253 journalists were placed under arrest’ including Kuldeep Nayyar of Indian Express and K.R Sunder Rajan of Times of India.

J P was a great Selfless Social worker and honest leader of India. He was sometimes socialist in his youth but ultimately joined Gandhiji’s non-violent independence movement. He was dedicated to Sarvodya and even after independence did not or declined any political status or office of importance in Congress Party or Congress Government. It is irony of fate of JP and India that such a social worker of such eminence was put behind bars by Indira Gandhi during Emergency. It was negation of not only our constitution but all that for which Gandhiji, Indira’s father Jawahar Lal Nehru and leaders like Dr Rajendra Parsad, Sardar Patel and Dr B R Ambedkar stood and fought throughout their lives.

As stated earlier J P was jailed along with other political leaders immediately after declaration of emergency. While in jail, in November 75, JP’s health suddenly deteriorated because of filthy conditions of over crowded jail and unpalatable food . It created panic in Indira – Sanjay dictatorship and also in the Congress Party fearing if JP died in jail hell will break out for the Government and Congress Party. Accordingly J P was at once shifted to Jaslok Hospital in Bombay to provide him best possible treatment to save his life as well as the life of government.

Sanjay Gandhi had become virtual or effective PM as Indira delegated all powers to her younger son, directed all Ministers and senior officers to consult Sanjay or in fact take orders from him. Sanjay and his views and actions were given wide publicity on state controlled Radio and Media as will be noticed from following:

‘ In a single year 192 news items were broadcast about Sanjay Gandhi from the Delhi Station of AIR. In the same period Doordarshan telecast 26 items on Sanjay’s activities. When he made a 24 hour trip to Andhra Pradesh, the Film Division shot a full-length documentary called ‘A day to remember with commentary in their languages’.

Because of his extra constitutional powers Sanjay Gandhi had his own coterie of which Jagmohan was the key member, other members of this coterie were Navin Chawla who was then secretory to the Governor of Delhi and senior Police officer P.S. Bhinder. Among the ladies who were members of this unlawful coterie were Ambika Soni and Ruksana Sultana. Every morning this coterie met in Sanjay’s office to report on how and what they had implemented on previous days orders of Sanjay and to take fresh instructions and orders for the day. R.K Dhawan Indira’s steno was the link between PM’s office and Sanjay’s ‘Darbar’.

Mission to clean up Delhi convened with Jagmohan as in charge of this enterprise which was fraught with dangers. Demolition started on 13th April 1976, when a bulldozer moved into unauthorized area near Turk man Gate demolishing some slums inhabited by forty poor families, A few days later bulldozer moved to the ground some antique structures in Turk man Gate area. Many people protested but were helpless. For couple of days there was pause but demolition started again with bulldozers under direct instructions of jagmohan who was DDA’s Vice Chairman or head. As hundreds of houses were demolished in the narrow streets of Turk-man Gate area affected, as inevitable, people stoned the Police which is relation lathi charged and then spoadic fire killing a number of protectors between “10 to 200” as exact number could not be ascertained because curfew was imposed in the Turk-man Gate area.

Meanwhile another problem cropped up as Sanjay was keen to control India’s growing population,he authorized sterilization. This,too, was carried to unforeseen limits and frenzy and protests. As it was mostly the Muslim inhabited area of old Delhi’s Turk-man Gate, to cool down the tempers and rebellions protests Sheikh Abdullah was called. He visited the congested area where shooting had taken place and was very much moved. He protested to Indira Gandhi saying that the whole trouble began when young, old and even in valid were dragged off to the sterilization camps”. Even compulsory sterilization was thereafter imposed in the villages around Delhi. Simultaneously protests continued in Delhi and neighboring UP. Worst incident took place in Muzzafer Nagar where to curb the violent protests “Police opened fire in which fifty people died”.

This incident moved even the PM who admitted the excesses in sterilization campaign in the Parliament. From here the decline of the popularity of Congress, Sanjay and Indira commenced. To stem the tide of protests and firing, Indira Gandhi commented on 18th January 1977 that Parliament would be dissolved and fresh elections will be held. Infact Indira, because of emergency, could extend Parliament from year to year but she took the decision without consulting anyone, not even Sanjay. She broadcast the decision to hold general elections in states and for Parliament. This announcement led to release of all Political prisoner from jails all over India. Speak Congress leadership even was surprised.

Though J P was old and infirm as he was on many occasions on dialysis. Yet between February 25 and March 5 “ he spoke at Patna, Calcutta, Bombay, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Indore, Pune and Ratlam. Everywhere he warned the audience that this is the last free elections if the congress is voted back to power then nineteen months of tyranny shall become nineteen years of terror”. In her speeches Indira Gandhi spoke as usual about the conspiracy against her and that emergency ‘was necessary at that time’.

In northern India there was a sort of referendum against ‘Compulsory Sterilization’ and forced vasectomies. In many meetings voters asked the congress speakers or candidates to show their own sterilization certificates. Often there were slogan’s against Sanjay Gandhi. There were hectic campaigns in all states against Sanjay, Indira and Congress. Even the Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid asked the Muslims not to vote for Congress. Jana Sangh and Akali Dal were vociferous against congress of Indira and Sanjay. To ensure defeat of Congress all opposition had united under one party ie Janta Party which constituted of Jana Sangh, Bhartiya Lok Dal of Charan Singh, socialist Party and Morarji Desai’s Congress (o). Even Jagjiwan Ram took the courage to resign from Indira’s cabinet and join the newly formed Janta Party. This brought vast number of backward classes to the fold of Janta Party as hitherto they had been supporting Congress of Mahatma Gandhi.

On the 20th March election results came as a shock to Indira and Sanjay as both mother and son were defeated. In UP in particular congress could not win even one seat out of 84. It was Congress debacle.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian History, Political Commentary | , , , | Leave a comment