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Emergency Conditions Without Emergency
by Dr. Rajinder Puri Bookmark and Share

There was a violent clash on the outskirts of Delhi. Four people including two policemen were killed. The enemy kidnapped two government officials and took them hostage. Who were the enemy? They were not Maoists or separatists or any ideologues pursuing a political agenda. They were farmers demanding a fair price for their land forcibly acquired by the government. Their agitation is spreading across Agra, Aligarh and Mathura, across India ’s heartland. Their grievances are genuine. Their grievances are ancient. The grievances have been voiced by different farmers across different states.

The government has yet not formulated a policy for land acquisition that redresses grievances of the dispossessed. The government has no time to talk with the farmers, listen to them and calm their agitation. The government right now is wrestling with how to tackle the Telangana protesters expected to become violent after the assembly poll results on May 13th. After decades the government has yet not determined how to tackle the Telangana agitation. The government is also busy right now deciding how to take advantage of the reprieve gained from pilots who had struck work to paralyze flight schedules…

The government has its hands full. Law and order is crumbling everywhere. But the most sinister aspect of the farmers’ agitation is that they attempted to hold hostage government officials. How were their tactics different from those adopted by the Maoists? Their tactics were equally unjustified. But their despair was fully justified. Why did they adopt Maoist tactics? Because they must have seen how the Maoists succeeded in having their way after holding hostage government officials. This, then, is the significantly ominous sign of the farmers’ agitation. The mainstream public is being driven by the government’s conduct to adopt measures that favour violent revolution. Whether it is in the Red Corridor controlled by the Maoists, or along the railway tracks blocked by pro-reservationists, or in state after state where people who are denied democratic justice demand separation, there is a grave threat to the security of the nation. 

What is the remedy? Article 352 of the Constitution states: “If the President is satisfied that a grave Emergency exists whereby the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or armed rebellion, he may by Proclamation, make a declaration to that effect in respect of the whole of India or of such part of the territory thereof as may be specified in the Proclamation.”

Do conditions in India or in certain parts of India justify the proclamation of Emergency? Even if justifiable conditions might prevail, either presently or in the future as governance continues to slide, Emergency is ruled out. Emergency has become a dirty word. It happened because Indira Gandhi lied, her party lied, and the hordes of sycophants among the ruling elite lied to rationalize the proclamation of a fraudulent Emergency when no justifiable conditions for its imposition existed. To avoid relinquishing office after an adverse court judgment Indira Gandhi made false allegations against her political opponents to justify the imposition of Emergency. When out of power she confessed that she had made a mistake by imposing the Emergency. 

Therefore however grave the conditions in India are, or might soon become, Emergency is not an option that may be exercised. There is an even more compelling reason than Indira Gandhi’s past folly to preclude the imposition of Emergency in India. If Emergency is imposed it will be proclaimed and executed by the guilty group that has created the conditions which justify it. Clearly, that will suggest a remedy worse than the disease. There is therefore only one solution. The people of India must organize themselves to create a democratic alternative that can defeat the current crop of corrupt and criminal politicians through an election to reclaim governance and the rule of law in the nation. That sounds impossible? Perhaps. But when the instinct for survival asserts itself may not people rise to the challenge and achieve the impossible?  

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