Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday asserted that intolerant citizens violating the freedoms of fellow citizens have no right to be ‘Indians’ as it goes against the core values and ethos of India. His remarks came at the function launching the book ‘Emergency: Indian Democracy’s Darkest Hour’ authored by Prasar Bharti Chairman A. Surya Prakash.
Stating that no sensible Government would dare to resort to Emergency after the resounding pro-democracy verdict of the people in 1977, the Vice President said that now the threat to individual freedoms is from some misguided citizens.
“That was clearly a State sponsored ‘Intolerance’ to democracy and individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. But we need to guard against intolerance on the part of certain misguided citizens,” he said.
“We have been occasionally witnessing some such words and deeds of intolerance by some citizens in the name of so called cow protection, Love Jihad, eating habits, watching films, etc. Such incidents lead us to the point that individual freedoms can be in full play only when every citizen respects such freedoms of fellow citizens,” the Vice President said.
He also asserted that the core Indian values and ethos have no place for intolerance due to which all the major religions of the world are flourishing in India.
“On the 43rd anniversary of Emergency, I would like the message to go out that any citizen who violates the freedoms of fellow citizens would have no right to be called an Indian. It is because he is hurting the Constitution of India and all that India stood for,” he told the gathering.
The Vice President also said that the medieval period of about a thousand years that destroyed democratic traditions of ancient India and the British Raj has found a place in the text books but not the Emergency in the post-Independent India.
“Its time, the dark days of Emergency becomes part of the curriculum, so that present generations are sensitized to the dreaded events of 1975-77 and they learn to value the democratic freedoms they enjoy today,” he said.
Referring to his own imprisonment of over 17 months during Emergency, Mr. Naidu listed 33 aberrations of that period, which he said sterilised democracy in the country, destroyed the Constitution and deprived the citizens of their Right to Life and Liberty.
He expressed concern over the way the Executive became dictatorial, Parliament abdicated its responsibility to the Executive and Judiciary sank to its lowest during the Emergency.
He also referred to strangulation of media during Emergency through various measures which included police officers becoming the editors of news papers censoring news, snapping electricity supply to prevent publication of news papers, arrest and harassment of upright journalists and their family members, stopping of advertisements to news papers critical of Emergency, abolition of the Press Council, the Parliament passing various laws stifling media, among other means.
Mr Naidu particularly expressed concern over the Supreme Court accepting the Government’s position that citizens had no right during Emergency.
He also took objection to the then President signing the Proclamation of Emergency during the fateful night without the backing of the Cabinet decision and lamented the emergence of small coterie that ran the affairs of the State with no accountability but with full powers.
Quoting government records, Mr Naidu said that of the 6,330 MISA detenues from political parties and banned organisations, 4,026 were from the RSS and Jan Sangh.
He referred to how Prime Minister Narendra Modi as RSS Pracharak during those days led the underground movement and played a key role in helping the families of those jailed by the Government besides organising secret resistance meetings.
The Vice President also described the then Supreme Court Judge HR Khanna and Indian Express editor Ramnath Goenka as the great heroes for defending the Fundamental Rights of citizens.
“Emergency should not be bandied about casually or irresponsibly. Emergency means dictatorship and the worst abuse of executive power” he said in his closing remarks.