A meeting held here on Friday to mark the 35th anniversary of Emergency urged the State government to recognise those arrested and jailed during the 1975-77 Emergency as political prisoners.

In a resolution, the meeting pointed out that these prisoners had fought for democracy and civil rights. Theirs was in fact the second freedom struggle of the country. They had sacrificed their youths and careers and had helped the nation to return to its democratic system.

The resolution pointed out that some States, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, had already recognised the `Emergency prisoners' as political prisoners and, considering their sacrifices for the nation's freedom granted them monthly pension for life.

Speakers at the meeting pointed out that the prisoners had put up a valiant resistance to Emergency and the forces of despotism. Most of these fighters were now in failing health and financial difficulties and hence needed the support of the government.

Scores of Emergency prisoners across the State turned up for the meeting which had earlier been set for June 26, the anniversary of the day Emergency was proclaimed in 1975, but had been put off. A coordination committee was formed with T.N. Joy as convener to stage a dharna near the Secretariat on July 19 to press for the political prisoner status for the Emergency fighters.

With his online speech, Kuldip Nayar, well-known senior journalist, whose bestselling book had exposed the events leading up to Emergency, opened the meeting. Mr. Nayar, who could not make it to the meeting, said that it was because of the failure of the constitutional institutions, the highest court in the country, the political parties and the Press Council to uphold freedom and democracy that led to Emergency and despotism.

Political leaders such as M.M. Lawrence, Thampan Thomas, P.C. Unnicheckan, Ayyappa Hugar and K. Aravindakshan spoke.

A painting exhibition, featuring the works of 18 artists was put up at the meeting venue to mark the Emergency anniversary. It was opened by the well-known painter C.N. Karunakaran.

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