“Forty years ago, lakhs of people were imprisoned, the press was censored and the radio only spoke what the government wanted,” said Modi.
He was speaking at a function to launch the Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – all programmes aimed at bettering quality of urban living.
“June 25-26 cannot be forgotten in the history of India. Forty years ago, the nation was placed under Emergency for the sake of power,” Modi said.
Earlier, Modi took to Twitter and said the Emergency rule from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977, was “one of India’s darkest periods”.
He posted a number of tweets on the Emergency’s 40th anniversary. He urged people to do “everything possible to further strengthen our democratic ideals and ethos”.
Modi said the then political leadership “trampled over the democracy” during the Emergency period.
“We mark 40 years of one of India’s darkest periods – the Emergency when the then political leadership trampled over our democracy,” Modi tweeted.
“A vibrant liberal democracy is the key to progress. Let us do everything possible to further strengthen our democratic ideals and ethos,” another of his tweets said.
The then prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in India, citing grave threat to her government and sovereignty of the country from both internal and external forces.
Modi said that inspired by the call of social reformer and political leader Jayaprakash Narayan, several men and women across India selflessly immersed themselves in the movement to safeguard the democracy.
“We are very proud of the lakhs of people who resisted the Emergency and whose efforts ensured that our democratic fabric is preserved,” Modi said.
“Personally, the Emergency brings back many memories. As youngsters, we learnt a lot during the anti-Emergency movement.”
Modi said: “Emergency was a great opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of leaders and organisations fighting for the same goal – the return of democracy.”