Skip to main content

Recalling Emergency: 'Indira Gandhi was saved from being assassinated at my hands, but she did make a grave error'

By Our Representative
Reproduced below is the personal experience at the Emergency, as felt by former fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force Rajiv Tyagi when he was in his teens, courtesy his FB timeline: 
Today marks 43 years to the declaration of Emergency, India's darkest hour before the 2014 election of Modi...
It was the winter of 1975. Indira Gandhi had invoked Emergency six months ago. I was an Air Force cadet at the National Defence Academy, home on leave. Brought up on Camus, Brecht, Gide, Anouilh, Kafka, Ayn Rand, Joyce and pornography, I was like any other rebellious 18 year old, at war with the world and its many hypocrisies, many of them inside my own home.
My heroine from 1971 was Indira, Vajpayee's Durga; and my hero, the natty General Sam Manekshaw, not because they won a war or divided an enemy nation, but because they did it with a chutzpah and ease that belied what must have taken the most awesome planning, diplomacy and nerves of steel.
On 25th Jun in 1975, I could not comprehend what had happened. What is an Emergency? What or who has caused it? What happens now? For many days I moved in a daze, scrounging for newspapers, listening to the radio. Slowly it dawned upon me that India had become a totalitarian state. The Indian Express bravely marked censored news with a black fill. The Times of India followed suit. Every morning one saw blacked-out frames in newspapers. 
An 18 year old was scared. Not for himself, but for a nation that was going down the way of China, Cuba, Russia. Then came news of the entire Opposition being jailed or in hiding. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP/RSS stalwart, wrote a letter to Indira from jail, promising to be a good boy if released.
Rajiv Tyagi
My heroine fell from grace. All around me there was talk of the wonderful things that were happening - trains running on time, Government servants doing their job. And an 18 year old screamed inside his head "That's not important, you fools!" I thought I would go mad with no one to talk to, who could understand what was happening to us, to our nation... Almost every moment was spent in reading and trying to absorb the enormity of what Indira had done to us all.
The winter break saw me back home, sitting with a classmate on a culvert over a drain, spilling out everything - my fear for what would happen, how we would now destroy our nation. He heard me out and with great prescience said the only way out would be if Indira made a grave error or if someone killed her.
It took me two days to decide that killing her would be the easier way out and the least destructive for India. I threw around the words murderer, assassin and executioner inside my head, preferring to be called the latter but hoping history would allow me the label 'assassin' at least. But I did not even know where the Prime Minister of India lived! 
Still dependent on my parents for pocket money at the NDA, I reactivated my school-time business of selling snakes and lizards preserved in formalin, to a shop that specialized in school laboratory-ware. That and some cadging from my mother, collected enough for an 18 year old to travel to Delhi to assassinate the Prime Minister of India.
I spent two nights on a park bench, found out where the PM lived, staked the house and found just too many armed guards to make a reliable success of my plan. There was also the small matter of obtaining a weapon to do the deed. The young but growing tactician within me decided to leave the job for another day, while I polished the plan.
A few days later, it was time to catch the special train back to the NDA. Indira Gandhi was saved from being assassinated at my hands, but she did make the grave error, driven by the inevitable hubris, of announcing an election that brought her down and liberated a nation that had forgotten what liberty meant.

Comments

TRENDING

Vaccine nationalism? Covaxin isn't safe either, perhaps it's worse: Experts

By Rajiv Shah  I was a little awestruck: The news had already spread that Astrazeneca – whose Indian variant Covishield was delivered to nearly 80% of Indian vaccine recipients during the Covid-19 era – has been withdrawn by the manufacturers following the admission by its UK pharma giant that its Covid-19 vector-based vaccine in “rare” instances cause TTS, or “thrombocytopenia thrombosis syndrome”, which lead to the blood to clump and form clots. The vaccine reportedly led to at least 81 deaths in the UK.

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

'Misleading' ads: Are our celebrities and public figures acting responsibly?

By Deepika* It is imperative for celebrities and public figures to act responsibly while endorsing a consumer product, the Supreme Court said as it recently clamped down on misleading advertisements.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Palm oil industry 'deceptively using' geenwashing to market products

By Athena*  Corporate hypocrisy is a masterclass in manipulation that mostly remains undetected by consumers and citizens. Companies often boast about their environmental and social responsibilities. Yet their actions betray these promises, creating a chasm between their public image and the grim on-the-ground reality. This duplicity and severely erodes public trust and undermines the strong foundations of our society.

India 'not keen' on legally binding global treaty to reduce plastic production

By Rajiv Shah  Even as offering lip-service to the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for the need to curb plastic production, the Government of India appears reluctant in reducing the production of plastic. A senior participant at the UNEP’s fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4), which took place in Ottawa in April last week, told a plastics pollution seminar that India, along with China and Russia, did not want any legally binding agreement for curbing plastic pollution.

No compensation to family, reluctance to file FIR: Manual scavengers' death

By Arun Khote, Sanjeev Kumar*  Recently, there have been four instances of horrifying deaths of sewer/septic tank workers in Uttar Pradesh. On 2 May, 2024, Shobran Yadav, 56, and his son Sushil Yadav, 28, died from suffocation while cleaning a sewer line in Lucknow’s Wazirganj area. In another incident on 3 May 2024, two workers Nooni Mandal, 36 and Kokan Mandal aka Tapan Mandal, 40 were killed while cleaning the septic tank in a house in Noida, Sector 26. The two workers were residents of Malda district of West Bengal and lived in the slum area of Noida Sector 9. 

'Fake encounter': 12 Adivasis killed being dubbed Maoists, says FACAM

Counterview Desk   The civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), even as condemn what it has called "fake encounter" of 12 Adivasi villagers in Gangaloor, has taken strong exception to they being presented by the authorities as Maoists.