40 Years Of Emergency: When newspaper published poems, remained blank
On 25th June 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed an Emergency in the country.
Fundamental Rights stood suspended, censorship was imposed on media and prominent political leaders were arrested.
Media, the fourth pillar of democracy, suffered immensely under Emergency.
Severe censorship was imposed on newspaper, television and radio. Except the Indian Express, no media organisation had shown courage to defy the censorship orders.
The first edition of the Indian Express after imposition of Emergency consisted of a blank page instead of editorial.
The Financial Express had Rabindranath Tagore's poem, "Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high".
The Emergency was a cruel reminder for media that the government can snatch its freedom arbitrarily. It was only then, the Press Council of India (PCI) was formed with an aim to safeguard the freedom of the press and to maintain and improve the standards of news.
During 19 months of Emergency, 253 journalists were detained and 7 foreign correspondents were expelled. When Janata Dal came into power all the restriction over press removed.
The general guidelines for press during Emergency were:
Press is advised to keep the following main points in view while filing messages, news, stories and comments etc.
* Any attempt to subvert the functioning of democratic institutions.
* Any attempt to compel members to resign.
* Anything relating to agitations and violent incidents.
* Any attempt to incite armed forces and police.
* Any attempt promoting disintegration and communal passions by endangering the unity of the country.
* Reports containing false allegations against leaders.
* Any attempt at denigrating the institution of the Prime Minister.
* Any attempt endangering the law and order to disturb normal functioning.
* Any attempt to threaten internal stability, production and prospects of economic improvement.