Press During Emergency

Janata Party, The Emergency (India), L. K. Advani

The promulgation of Emergency and Press Censorship on June 26, 1975 constituted the darkest chapter in press history in free India. The period had its immediate and long term repercussions for the press. In fact, in the past decade, dark shades of press censorship were indeed hovering over the country. And more dangerously, new forms of have been invented in the changed scenario of globalisation. It was the censorship of 1975, which showed how the press at large became a tool in government hands. News was moulded purely to serve the party in power and its leader and the ministry of information and broadcasting became a virtual caricature of the Hitlerian German Information Minister Dr. Goebbels set up. It is true that in Delhi some papers and editors donned the mask of crusaders, only to later on become government tom-tommers. Here are some examples as the Shah Commission of Enquiry pointed out: The guidelines issued by the Chief Censor even exceeded the scope of the Rule 48 of the Defence and Internal Security of India Rules insofar as they prevented editors leaving editorial columns blank or filling them with quotations from great works of literature or from national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, or Rabindranath Tagore. The I&B ministry did not attempt to find out whether these guidelines were within the scope of Defence and Internal Security of India Rules or not. Parliament and court proceedings were also subject to censorship. Not merely publication of court judgments was censored, but directions were also given as to how judgments should be published. In practice, censorship was utilised for suppressing news unfavourable to the government, to play up news favourable to the government and to suppress news unfavourable to the supporters of the Congress Party. From the early 1970s onwards, wide-spread discontent shook India: large sections of the population came out in demonstrations against rising prises, fall in the supply of essential...
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