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Prisons Are “Torture Camps” During Emergency, Says Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin In An Autobiography

The 334-page autobiography of MK Stalin was released recently by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.


Marked with a detachment feeling ‘like a saint’, the late DMK patriarch and his father M Karunanidhi handed it over to the police during the notorious Emergency, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has recalled in his autobiography.

Recounting his admission to the Central Prison in Chennai after his arrest in 1976, Mr Stalin in his autobiography described his prison time as a ‘torture camp’ that resonated with mourning.

Although surprising, it gives’Sakthi‘(strength) to people who are ideologically committed to face anything. “That day, I gained the strength to face anything,” Mr Stalin said.

The state of emergency was imposed by the then Indira Gandhi government in 1975 and implemented until 1977. The period was notorious for widespread arrests of opposition political leaders and reductions in civil liberties.

Mr Stalin’s 334 -page autobiography in Tamil, ‘Ungalil Oruvan‘(One of you) Part I, was released recently by Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi.

Hours after the DMK government in Tamil Nadu led by Mr Karunanidhi was sacked on January 31, 1976, Mr Stalin recalled that police arrived at their Gopalapuram residence here looking for him. However, he was in a town near Mathuranthakam at the time.

When police officers said they had instructions to search the house to ascertain whether Mr Stalin was there or not, Mr Karunanidhi told them, ‘by all means’ and told them that his son was out of town and would return home the next day. . In addition, Mr Karunaidhi ‘offered’ himself to be arrested.

The Chief Minister recalled that he and others had concerns that ‘Thalaivar‘(Party leader Mr Karunanidhi) can be arrested, but’ the prison wind is blowing towards me. ‘ When he arrived home the next day on February 1, 1976, Mr Stalin said while his mother Dayalu Ammal and wife Durga were crying, the stentorian voice of Thalaivar advised that one should be prepared for all kinds of sacrifices in public life to appease family members.

“Be prepared, the police are looking for you,” Mr Stalin quoted his father and party leader Mr Karunanidhi as telling him. Later, police officers arrived after Mr Karunanidhi informed them by phone about Mr Stalin returning home. “Stalin is here, take him,” Mr Karunanidhi told police officers.

The Chief Minister said since being detained under the Internal Security Maintenance Act (MISA), he was not sure how long the jail would last.

Mr Stalin said although his father had been the state’s chief minister for years until the government’s dismissal, there was not the slightest hint of power when he dealt with the police.

Like a hermit, with a sense of loss, his father Mr. Karunanidhi sent him to prison, Mr. Stalin said. Mr Karunanidhi has no regrets at all that his son will be jailed, the Chief Minister said.

Mr. Karunanidhi’s face, at the time, conveyed the feeling that like many DMK members at the time, his son Stalin had also been imprisoned.

Describing many armed members patrolling the entrance of the fortified prison as he was brought into the jail, he said the scenario would make people wonder whether the incarcerated person was a terrorist.

“I’ll narrate that lament, the bloody scene (from the prison) in the second part (of his autobiography). I’ll take you into the prison too. I’m waiting at the prison entrance! You wait too!” Mr Stalin said it dramatically ended the first part of his autobiography.

Born on March 1, 1953, Mr Stalin was about 23 years old at the time of his arrest in 1976. He had held various positions in the DMK and eventually became party leader in 2018.

He became an MLA for the first time in 1989 from the Thousand Lights constituency in Chennai and was re -elected three times from the same segment.

In 1996, he was elected mayor of Chennai Corporation and re-appointed in 2001. However, he was forced to come out with the captivating power of AIADMK, which enacted a law barring elected representatives from also holding local body posts.

In 2006, he became the Minister of Municipal Administration in the DMK government under Mr. Karunanidhi and subsequently became the Deputy Chief Minister in 2009.

Under his supervision, DMK seized power in 2021.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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