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

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Were JVCs, rock cutters 'reinforcing' Statue of Unity base on dry Narmada riverbed?

By Kevin Antao* 
Having seen photographs and write-ups on the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, constructed and assembled off Narmada dam in South Gujarat, I always wanted to visit the site and see for myself the great marvel that it was being made out to be.

Sardar Patel's 'notable' achievement on J&K: Insertion of Article 370 in Constitution

By Shamsul Islam*
One of the "truths" manufactured in the boudhik shibirs (ideological training camps) of the RSS is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who forced Article 370 on India while Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, was opposed to it. The RSS leaders both inside the Modi government and outside ceaselessly keep on blaming Jawaharlal Nehru as the sole architect of Article 370, giving Kashmir special status.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt promotes low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”