BENGALURU: On June 25, 1975, near midnight, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declare a state of national Emergency. A lot of confusion, chaos, fear and turmoil followed during the next two years. On June 26, 2017, Express spoke to prominent Bengalureans on what they remember of the period and whether it impacted their life - exactly 42 years after they experienced the first full day of the turbulent-yet-significant time.
For journalist, theatre personality, activist and actor Prakash Belawadi, the period was a very defining time. The thespian was aged all of 14 at the time and was doing his schooling at National High School, Basavanagudi.
“Our teachers were against the Emergency. They explained to us, in hushed tones, why it was wrong and how we should never take democracy for granted.
One particular teacher, G K Natarajan, enlightened us and told us what the Emergency implied. It was because of people like him and Ramnath Goenka that I pursued journalism instead of engineering,” he said.
Belawadi laughed as he recounted how police would check newspapers every night before they were printed. As his parents were theatre personalities, he would get to know some ‘hush-hush stories,’ like when George Fernandes (politician tried in the Baroda Dynamite case), staying for a while on the same street as Belawadi’s family, went “missing.” he added in a bemused tone.
Former Supreme Court judge and former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde, was 35 and practising as an advocate when Emergency was declared. In fact, he was part of the defence counsel for opposition leaders jailed in the city. These included political heavyweights like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Ramakrishna Hegde. He remembers meeting Hegde and H D Deve Gowda at the city’s central jail.
Acclaimed director and doyen of parallel cinema Girish Kasaravalli who was at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune during the Emergency said the atmosphere of uncertainty prevailed for the next six months.The filmmaker added that the decision was also unexpected because India was, until then, used to Nehruvian liberalism.