Bombay During Emergency

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On the night of 26th June 1975, the President of India upon a proposal from the then Prime Mister Indira Gandhi declared internal emergency under article 352(1) of the Constitution under which the civil liberties of the citizens were curbed and the political opponents were arrested in large numbers followed by draconian measures like slum demolitions and forced mass-sterilisations drives and censoring of press. The proclamation of emergency removed protections of rights to freedom under Article 19 of the constitution and suspended the right to move any court to enforce rights under Articles 14, 21, and 22. The emergency was finally withdrawn after 19 months on 21st March 1977.

During these months, Bombay also saw a series of arrests and two massive demolition drives, legislative amendments targeted against the slum dwellers and the poor in form of the Maharashtra Vacant Land (Prohibition of unauthorised occupation and summary eviction) Ordinance, 1975 and an ordinance amending the Bombay Police Act, 1951, and the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 in February 1976 which allowed the Police Commissioner ‘to extern beggars from Greater Bombay area to outside places’, to imprison those ‘who jump externment orders’ for two years. Around 70,000 people were shifted from Janata Colony to Cheetah Camp on 17th May 1976 and hundreds of slum dwellers were moved out of a plot at Bandra East.