Law Kumar Mishra
Patna: On June 26,1975,  morning, we  journalists were working in The Searchlight daily (now Hindustan Times). During those days, daily newspapers used to have their morning sessions from 8 am (unlike now) for the Dak editions. There used to be regional desk which edited the copies of the correspondents of the district levels received by post or telegrams, which was very common. A chief sub-editor led the four members desk. From the reporting side too, one reporter was assigned the duty a day earlier for the morning events to be covered in the editions for which the newspapers were released for despatch by 4 pm for far away places in Bihar. They were generally sent by trains from Patna junction.

For the convenience of the news room, a transistor was available in addition to the PTI and UNI copies. Some papers including The Searchlight got copies of the Hindustan Samachar (typed on white papers and delivered at regular intervals by a cyclist -who was despatcher -cum -mechanic.

We were told about imposition of emergency on the morning news broadcast of the Akashvani with special address to the Nation by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. We did not get clear idea about the implications of the emergency and its effect on the newspapers the same day. A deputy SP of central intelligence, who used to reside at a government quarters near Martyrs Memorial and was daily visitor to the newspapers obviously for gathering informations from the reporters and collect press notes of the Students Action Committee and Mahila Charkha Samiti, some signed by JP himself. The deputy SP used to come to The Searchlight on his jeep daily and  was entertained by senior colleagues with tea and samosas.The senior reporters, in return, got some political stories from  the deputy SP.

On June 26 ,1975, he made a surprise visit to the newsroom in the morning (unlike his afternoon visits). Satyanaraian Lal, a senior reporter, asked him, ‘why did you come early morning. Do you know emergency has been imposed.” The deputy SP was aware of the emergency but inquired from him what would be its implications. He was aware of imposition of emergency, but not about its effects. Editor S R Rau too came as usual at 10.30 am.  He knew the details of the emergency and had carefully heard the PM’s speech. Press Information Bureau’s regional office was located opposite the Searchlight office near a petrol pump. Jadunath Sinha, the then PIB officer, was very friendly with newsmen . Later, he became the chief censor. An additional secretary of home department later became a frequent visitor to the Searchlight to finalise the edition’s news. Jadunath Sinha explained the implications of emergency and curbs on the media.The deputy SP of central agency also got detailed information about arrests of the leaders in the wee hours from the PIB office itself.

Newspapers religiously followed the PIB copies, visits of union ministers in their newspapers. Some of the newspapers ventured to  publish news about late running of trains, rising prices, hoarding of foodgrains. Later, they were trained how to write stories-emergency and its gains in different fields including movement of trains and price control. No news of non- Congress leaders were to be published but the news and views about the Anti-fascist Conference held at now Botanical Garden was given wide publicity. Fidel Castro came there. Narayan Dutt Tiwari, who later became the CM of UP. Poorvi Mukehrjee, the then AICC general secretary, and all leaders of CPI atttending the conference got page one coverage .

The students leaders who were regular visitors to the Press with their releases suddenly disppeared from the scene. Even those who were not arrested went underground during the emergency period. Reporters and sub-editors behaved and worked like government clerks (pattawalas and karkoons in Gujarati ), the thrill was missing ,they learnt to adjust and compromise with the circumstances till March 1977 when new government came at the Centre under the leadership of Morarji Desai. But,unlike ,some other Congress ruled states like Haryana ,West Bengal or Karnataka, no journalist was harassed or arrested in Bihar where there a Congress government headed by Jagannath Mishra.


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