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‘Couldn’t perform mother’s last rites during Emergency:’ Rajnath

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NEW DELHI: Defence minister

Rajnath Singh

on Thursday slammed Congress for accusing the BJP-led government of ‘undeclared Emergency’ and recalled his time in jail during the 1975

Emergency

imposed by the Indira Gandhi-government, stating that he served an eighteen-month jail sentence without being granted

parole

to even visit his ailing mother or attend her last rites.

In an interview to ANI, the Union home minister and former BJP chief said, “Those who imposed dictatorship through Emergency, they accuse us of being dictatorial.”
Singh recounted his role as the convenor for Mirzapur-Sonbhadra during the JP movement against the Emergency, which lasted from June 1975 to March 1977. “I was jailed as we were opposing the Emergency. We used to agitate. We created awareness among people, how Emergency is dangerous and reflects dictatorial tendency,” he said.
At around 24 years old when the Emergency was declared, Singh recalled the night of his arrest. “I was newly married and had returned home after working the whole day. I was told the police had come. They told me there is a warrant. It was around midnight and was taken to jail. I was kept in solitary confinement,” he added further.

Recalling his imprisonment days, he said, “No books were provided, there was a brass utensil in which daal (cooked pulse) was given and chappati given in our hands. We were allowed to go out within the compound for some time… Maybe I had a good temperament so I was kept in jail for so long (laughs). When I was being transferred from Mirzapur jail to Naini Central Jail, there were several policemen at the platform. My mother was also there and told me, “Whatever happens, do not apologise…(hearing that) police people started crying.”

Singh recounted that after a year, his mother asked about his release, to which his cousin informed her that the Emergency had been extended for another year. “She suffered a brain haemorrhage on learning this, she was in hospital for 27 days and died, I could not come, …I did not get released, did not get parole. I got my head shaved in the jail, the last rites were performed by my brothers I could not reach…and imagine they make allegations of dictatorship against us, they do not look within,” he added.
Singh revealed that he was granted parole for a brief period following his mother’s passing, but upon resuming his activism against the Emergency, he was promptly returned to jail, despite the parole not having ended.
Meanwhile,

opposition

parties have repeatedly accused the government of employing investigative agencies against them and have frequently asserted the existence of an “undeclared emergency” in the nation.
In its manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has lamented the erosion of India’s democracy, stating that every institution, including Parliament, is perceived to have surrendered its independence and become subservient to the executive government.

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