Thanks to Vikram for alerting me to this. Below, a shocking excerpt from a recent piece by Kuldip Nayar, “The shame of misrule” (emphasis added):
…Typical of Congress’ furtive ways to cover up its misdeeds, the home ministry claims it does not have the emergency proclamation issued by then President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. Nor does it have any record of the decisions taken on the arrests of thousands on the basis of false allegations, the appointment of certain people to key posts and the manner in which the statutory provisions governing detentions were breached.
This means that anyone aged 30 or younger will find it difficult to obtain any hard information about what happened during those dark days. Many of us remember the courage of Jayaprakash (JP) Narayan, who challenged Mrs Gandhi’s misrule, and the pain he suffered when he was subsequently imprisoned.
…I am surprised that there was no furore in parliament on the disclosure of the disappearance of the papers on the emergency. Neither Mulayam Singh nor Lalu Prasad Yadav, nor even the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, raised the topic.
The home ministry fixes responsibility for the missing records on the National Archives of India, saying that it is the “repository of non-current records”. The National Archives says that nothing was transferred to its safekeeping. Yet the Shah Commission, which dug into the misdeeds committed during the emergency, said on the last day of its proceedings that it was depositing all the records with the National Archives.
The Shah Commission held 100 meetings, examined 48,000 papers and issued two interim reports. While the Janata government was still in power, I checked with the National Archives and was assured that the records of the commission’s verbatim proceedings were intact.
Apparently, the destruction of evidence started after Mrs Gandhi’s return to power in 1980. Copies of the Shah Commission report disappeared even from the shop where official publications were available. The report by the National Police Commission, which made praiseworthy recommendations to free the force from the pressure of politicians, was shelved because it had been constituted by the Janata government. Mrs Gandhi walked out of a police medal distribution ceremony when her aide told her that the medals were for work in exposing excesses during the emergency.
…The reason why the system, which was derailed during the emergency, has not been able to return to its moorings so far is the unaccountability of bureaucrats and politicians. No one found guilty by the Shah Commission has been punished*. In fact, those who indulged in excesses were given out-of-turn promotions and appointments to key posts.
…I am not surprised that Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has remained silent over the missing records. He is too close and beholden to the dynasty.
…True, it is all history. But the Congress cannot rewrite it. The failings of the government and its leaders should never be fudged because the nation’s conscience is at stake. Coming generations should know how and where the country’s institutions were compromised and democracy derailed. It is only by laying the truth out in black and white that future emergencies and associated authoritarian rule can be avoided. And I hope the dawn of our second independence is never overtaken by the twilight made up of the brutalities and excesses that shame us.
* At least one such officer continues to remain in the public eye. He is none other than Sh Navin Chawla, whom the Shah Commission had declared “unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others…”
Related Posts: Doosra* Sanjay Gandhi?
Reading Ramdhari Singh “Dinkar” As many of you would know, JP’s movement against Emergency was inspired by the words of RAshtrakavi Dinkar.
Ironically, the National Herald newspaper was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru
UPDATE: Here is a link to the final report and a copy of the Interim Report of the Shah Commission is available on this link, courtesy, https://twitter.com/thinkerspad