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Monday, June 24, 2019

the Police Officer who arrested former PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi is no more !


I was too young .. .. yet Triplicanites could make me understand the electoral politics. Clearly there was a wave ~ in houses the elder generation was for Congress, the youth wre for the newly created Janata party  .. .. and in 1977 – newspapers screamed in bold letters [was that half page !!] ‘Indira defeated’ ~ nothing else mattered.  The man who defeated her in 1977 Lok Sabha elections was Raj Narain, a freedom fighter and politician who had won a famous electoral malpractice case against the then PM Mrs Indira Gandhi that led to her disqualification and subsequent imposition of Emergency in India in 1975 !!
 
Janata Party won – Morarji Desai became the first non-Congress PM of India and much more were to happen .. ..  on Oct 3, 1977, the Union Home Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh had the former PM Mrs Indira Gandhi arrested – and was that a political bungling ?   the arrest was made on charges of "planning the killing of all opposition leaders in jail during the Emergency." Indira Gandhi's arrest triggered nationwide strikes and protests. The Congress party supporters demanded her immediate release. They even hijacked an Air India flight in protest of their leader's arrest. In the face of such national unrest, Gandhi was freed from prison on the night of December 26, after spending one week in detention for breach of privilege and contempt of the Indian Parliament.

That was truly historical – arrest of PM of the Nation .. .. .. On Jan 19, 1966, Indira Gandhi became India's first Prime Minister. She continued to serve the nation at this post for almost 14 years. During her first term as Prime Minister, Gandhi had nationalised 14 banks in India.  In 1973, she was to nationalize Insurance Companies too !  After her re-election as the Prime Minister in 1971, Indira Gandhi extended her support to the freedom fighters of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), a move lauded till date.  Indira Gandhi was banned from the Parliament by the High Court of Allahabad on charges of electoral malpractice. She regained her position on the grounds of public support.

It was reported that Mrs Gandhi's arrest had been the topic of discussion at almost every "informal Cabinet meeting". Industry Minister George Fernandes and Health Minister Raj Narain, and others had been pressing for Mrs Gandhi's immediate arrest. The Prime Minister Morarji Desai had advised caution: "We must take action only according to the law," he had warned. Law Minister Shanti Bhushan had concurred. Chaudhary charan Singh  wanted to launch the prosecution immediately after Janata assumed power in March. Fernandes' concept of a trial on the Nuremberg model had specially appealed to the leader who has an almost total belief in the sanctity of the democratic process. But there were too many pressing issues at hand. As the officials waded through the files, one political crisis after another had confronted the old man. Indira Gandhi could wait. There was time enough to catch her, he said to himself.  After months of hesitation, the Indian government moved without warning  and arrested former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and at least four members of her cabinet, charging them with corruption. The 59 year-old Gandhi was taken into police custody for an appearance in court on a  Tuesday after she refused to post bail. Gandhi demanded that she be taken away from her home in handcuffs but police agents refused her request. In a statement issued before being taken into custody, the former prime minister asserted her "arrest is a political one. It is to prevent me from going before the people. It is an attempt to discredit me in their eyes and the eyes of the world."  She too was in a confrontation mode daring the Govt to arrest her .. .. and finally is happened. 

Officials at that time stated that one case dealt with Gandhi's "illegally conniving" with others and pressuring two companies to obtain 104 jeeps for election work in several districts including her own. The second charge alleged she misused her position in awarding a $13.4 million government oil drilling contract to a French firm, despite a lower bid by a competitor. The names of the companies involved and other details were not made public.  Today comes the news that - V R Lakshminarayanan, the police officer who arrested Indira Gandhi in 1977 after the emergency on the orders of the Morarji government, passed away at his residence at Anna Nagar in Chennai on Sunday (23.6.2019). He was 91.

Indira Gandhi had pinned two medals on him for meritorious and distinguished service and Lakshminarayanan was loathe to handcuff her. When she held up her hands to be handcuffed, Lakshminarayanan told her he had forgotten to bring handcuffs. This is what he would recount when asked about the incident, said his nephew A Ranganathan, as reported in TOI. Lakshminarayanan had a distinguished career in the IPS and last served as director general of the Tamil Nadu Police. He was also joint director in the Central Bureau of Investigation after joining the IPS in 1951 with his first posting as assistant superintendent of police in Madurai when Kamaraj was chief minister. As chairman and managing director of the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Corporation (TNPHC) from 1981 to 1984, he built quarters at many places for police personnel. Lakshminarayanan has been a mentor to many police officers across the country.

VRL, the younger brother of the well known jurist V R Krishna Iyer, graduated in physics from Madras Christian College (MCC) in 1945 and then finished his graduation in law. Since his father and brother were in the judiciary he opted to join the Indian Police Service. He also served in the Malabar Special Police in Nagaland during the insurgency. His book ‘Appointments and Disappointments’ was much sought after among relatives and friends. Post retirement Lakshminarayanan spent most of his time mentoring junior police officers and doing charity work. He donated funds during the Kerala floods and for the education of children of police personnel. Lakshminarayanan is survived by his son Suresh Lakshminarayanan and daughters Usha Ravi and Rama -- all settled in the United States.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th June 2019.

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