Activists draw parallel to Indira’s troubles in 1975

The forcible detention of Baba Ramdev and the alarmist statements made by the Congress party has prompted many to draw parallels between the current state and Indira Gandhi’s fears and paranoia before the suspension of democracy in India in 1975.

Swami Agnivesh, Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal criticised the action and compared the situation to the pre-emergency paranoia of 1975. Indira Gandhi had declared a suspension of democratic rights of Indians — including elections and freedom of speech — alleging that popular protests were threatening the stability of the country.

Shanit Bhushan, one of most elder legal brains in the country, criticised the government for taking action against protesters instead of against those who don’t pay taxes or accumulate wealth through illegal means such as corruption.

“It shows to what extent the government can go to protect black money offenders… Do the people not have the right to peacefully protest,” he asked.

Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi countered the Congress’ claim that the Baba was inciting his followers to violence. “The government seems to have run out of patience. At least, they should have waited till morning and listened to what Baba had to say. Baba was not forcing people to become violent,” she said.

“This action shows that the government is not being patient with a peaceful agitation,” said Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, one of the members of the Lokpal bill drafting committee.

He said it is a violation of the fundamental rights of the people to gather peacefully to demonstrate. “I am very sad.. this brings back the memories of June 25, 1975,” he said, referring to the first day of constitutional emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi’s Congress government.

He also criticised the Congress’ characterization of Ramdev as a cheat. “If Baba Ramdev was a cheat, why were there three ministers to receive him at the airport,” he asked, terming the lathicharge of peaceful protestors “inhuman.”


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