Annadurai, Homeland Editorial - 12-01-1958

Last week we expressed the belief that the Black Flag demonstration would be a success. And so it has been. We congratulate the people on this victory. But the methods and means adopted by the State to suppress the spontaneous upsurge of popular sentiment, have shocked all truly democratic citizens, and it is now freely said that the days of Downing Street Democracy are over and the era of Draconian Democracy has begun. The most recognised and widely accepted manner of exhibiting the resentment of the people to anyone in power is by staging a Black Flag Demonstration. That was why the D.M.K., wedded as it is to peaceful and non-violent methods of agitation, selected this particularly peaceful mode to show to Pandit Nehru that the path of persistent vituperation leads only to ignominy and contempt. Yes, the Madras Ministry thought fit to attempt to stifle this demonstration if it could, by unleashing its repressive forces and throwing all constitutional freedoms to the four winds. They could have at least patted themselves on their backs if by all this sacrifice of the liberty at the alter of Power they were able to save the Pandit's sensitive eyes from seeing any black flag. But events turned out otherwise. The calculation of the authorities had ignored the most vital factor, namely the innermost feelings of the public, which had only been reflected by the D.M.K.'s decision. And so in spite of the Police having clapped up party leaders in jail and in spite of the Police having given a preview of their fangs on the third January by using tear gas and lathis on the crowds, the masses mustered in thousands at Meenambakkam and when the Pandit's car drove out of the airport he was confronted with a veritable sea of black flags accompanied by the Vox Populi which said "Go Back Nehru". This shows that the people cannot be so easily choked, and it also reveals a trend which confirms our suspicion that the government is drifting from democracy to dictatorship.

Oscar Wilde once defined democracy in his own style as "a bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people". What he said humorously has now come to be a true statement—with this difference—that the bludgeoning is of the people by the government for the government! Last week, Madras has experienced this bludgeoning in five ways:
—Refusal of permission to hold peaceful meetings
—Arrest of partymen on a disproportionately large scale
—Humiliating and inhuman treatment of those taken into custody
—Unnecessary and savage Police violence on the crowds
—Disgraceful treatment in prison to those hurt and arrested

How far all this has shocked everyone is clear from the forthright and unequivocal condemnation of government action by public men and institutions who are far from sympathetic to the cause of the D.M.K., but whose higher sensibilities were outraged by recent acts of the State.

Mr. Trilok Singh, the General Secretary of the Praja Socialist Party, speaking at a public meeting in Madras on the 4th January, 1958, criticised the refusal of the government to allow the D.M.K. meeting at the Beach on the 3d. He said the arbitrary use of discretionary powers was a clear violation of the fundamental rights of the people.

The conveners of the Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to the Press, have equally condemned the government to the Press have equally condemned the government's refusal to grant permission and also have added that the Police are to blame for any disorder that may have prevailed consequently.

Messrs. L.S.Karayalar and S.S.Mariswami, of the National Democratic Congress party who were eye-witnesses to the Police activities at Meenambakkam on the 6th, have issued a statement characterising the lathi-charge as indiscriminate and uncalled for.

"The Indian Express" has editorially inveighed against the "Lawless Law" prevailing in the State and criticised government action in barring the public meeting and arresting party leaders.

This widespread and general revulsion of feeling should show the government that its policy of repression is out of date and highly dangerous.

Inability to brook opposition views is the first and earliest symptom of totalitarianism. This malady appears to have seized our administration and it behoves all democratic forces to check this trend before the disease gets chronic and malignant. Infantile mortality among democracies is high and the most common cause of fatality has been unbridled power vested in one party which gets allergic to criticism or public condemnation. We must guard against this, and any price is not too high to pay for this effort.

"That nation is not governed", said Burke, "which is perpetually to be conquered". We remind this to our rulers, whose feet are pointing to Tyranny's direction.

(Editorial - 12-01-1958)



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