These 8 people along with Indira had conspired for emergency, know what happened 4 hours before 12 o'clock that night

Ananya Shroff
10 Min Read
These 8 people along with Indira had conspired for emergency, know what happened 4 hours before 12 o'clock that night


New Delhi: About 4 hours before midnight on 25 June 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was taking a brisk walk in her office. With her in the office was the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Siddharth Shankar Ray, who was considered her confidant and most trusted person. Complete details were being prepared on how the emergency would be imposed in the country and how it would be implemented, who would be arrested and how censorship would be imposed on the press. Officers of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which carried out foreign intelligence missions, were busy making a list of who to arrest and who not to arrest. This list was shown to Indira Gandhi. When the draft of the emergency was ready, Indira Gandhi asked Siddharth Shankar Ray to come to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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The intention of emergency was visible 5 days ago

Famous journalist Kuldeep Nayyar, who was jailed during the Emergency, wrote a book – Emergency Retold, whose Hindi version was published as Emergency Ki Inside Story. In it, he has written that on June 20, Indira Gandhi had held a rally in which she had said that she would continue to serve the people till her last breath, no matter what position she held. She said that service has been a tradition of her family. For the first time in a public meeting, Indira discussed her family. Her family was also present on that stage – Sanjay, Rajiv and his Italian wife Sonia. She said that big powers are not only bent on ousting me from power, but also want to end my life. They have laid a big trap to carry out their intentions.

Indira's confidant had suggested the idea of ​​emergency

Indira's most trusted and childhood friend Siddharth Shankar Ray was called from then Calcutta. During the conversation on June 24, Siddharth Shankar Ray advised Indira to impose an emergency in the country. Someone was immediately sent from the PM residence to bring a copy of the Constitution from the Parliament Library. The Prime Minister's Secretariat had already prepared a note to impose an emergency. Under the emergency powers, the Center could give any instructions to any state.

Was Siddhartha Shankar Ray the mastermind of the Emergency?

Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution or all Fundamental Rights could have been suspended. Courts could have been ordered not to entertain any appeals regarding the enforcement of these rights. Siddharth Shankar Ray is said to be the mastermind of the Emergency. However, some writers say that it was Indira's brainchild. Finally, the decision to impose the Emergency was taken now.

Description of the characters of emergency in Rashid Kidwai's book

Siddharth Shankar Ray got the draft of the Emergency typed

Ray informed Indira's secretary PN Dhar about the declaration of emergency. Dhar called his typist and got the proposal for declaration of emergency written. Later RK Dhawan reached Rashtrapati Bhavan with all these papers. When Indira fell asleep three hours after the imposition of emergency, arrests started across the country. First of all, Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai were taken into custody.

So much secrecy was maintained that even the Law Minister was not informed about it

Special care was taken to maintain secrecy in the matter of imposing emergency. Even when the then Law Minister HR Gokhale was called to give it a legal form, he did not know when the emergency would be imposed. Only Indira Gandhi, RK Dhawan, Bansilal, Om Mehta, Kishan Chand and Siddharth Shankar Ray knew when the emergency would be imposed. Apart from this, Indira's son Sanjay Gandhi and her personal secretary PN Dhar were also informed about it later.

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Indira did not contact her ministers and chief ministers directly

Rashid Kidwai, author of the book 'Leaders, Politicians, Citizens: Fifty Figures Who Influenced India's Politics', explains that Indira Gandhi did not have direct contact with her ministers, chief ministers and party chiefs. Whatever instructions she had to give or good or bad news had to be given, it was conveyed through RK Dhawan. The purpose of this was that if something did not go right, Dhawan would have to take responsibility for it.

Rashid Kidwai Quotes

Jyoti Basu had got iron bars installed in the windows of the house

Kuldeep Nayyar writes in his book that the opposition had no idea what was going to happen to them. Marxist Jyoti Basu had guessed this to a large extent. He had publicly said that Indira Gandhi wanted to abolish the Constitution. He had installed iron bars in the windows of his house.

The opposition had no idea what was going to happen

The opposition had no idea what was going to happen. They were all busy preparing for JP's rally on June 25. At this rally, the opposition leaders were accusing the Prime Minister of clinging to power. Some people started saying that she had become a dictator. JP had announced that he would hold protests all over the country on June 29 to force Indira to resign. He also appealed to the defense forces and the police not to listen to Indira, which was later considered treason by Indira and her son Sanjay Gandhi.

These were the main reasons behind imposing emergency

Senior journalist and author of the book 'The Emergency', Kumi Kapoor says that the plan for the Emergency was not made overnight. The background for the Emergency had already started getting prepared. Youth across the country were extremely angry due to inflation, corruption and unemployment reaching its peak. Students and youth started rallying behind 72-year-old socialist-Sarvodaya leader Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan in a non-violent and disciplined manner. Protests were taking place against Congress governments across the country. In such a situation, on 12 June 1975, Allahabad High Court judge Jagmohan Lal Sinha gave a historic verdict. Socialist leader Raj Narayan had challenged Indira Gandhi's Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli saying that Indira had adopted wrong methods during the election campaign.

Jay Prakash Narayan

When Loknayak JP started a big movement of students and youth

When JP said- vacate the throne, the public is coming

In case Indira did not step down, JP called for an indefinite nationwide agitation the next day i.e. on 25 June. At Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, JP recited the lines of the famous poem of national poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar – 'Singhasan Khali Karo Ki Janata Aati Hai'. JP said in his speech, my friends are telling me that I can be arrested because we have asked the army and police not to follow the wrong orders of the government.

Coomi Kapoor

Indira reached Rashtrapati Bhawan 4 hours before emergency was declared

According to Kuldeep Nayyar's book, Indira Gandhi reached Rashtrapati Bhavan with her colleague Siddharth Shankar Ray four hours before the scheduled time of imposition of emergency. There Siddharth spent 45 minutes explaining the meaning of emergency to the President. The President also did not take long to understand the consequences of emergency. He did not even protest. He was grateful to Indira Gandhi for placing him on the highest post in the country. The President signed the proclamation of imposition of emergency at 11:45 pm.

When JP replied laughingly

Kumi Kapoor has written in her book 'Emergency: A Personal History' that Subramanian Swamy, who had returned from Harvard University after studying and was going to Rajya Sabha from Jan Sangh, had asked JP that what would happen if Indira imposed martial law like America, then JP had laughingly dismissed his fear by saying that you have become American enough… the public will revolt against Indira.

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