No one should have the courage to launch an "open and frontal assault" on the country''s democratic fabric the way former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did on June 25, 1975, he said in a statement here.
"But the tendency in governments to curtail civil liberties and basic freedom on the one or other pretext will always remain a threat in any society, where people are not vigilant and the media freedom is compromised in one way or the other," he said recalling the imposition of the internal Emergency by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
The former CM said democracy and secularism were the two reasons for the respect that India enjoyed world over.
These two values were the cornerstone on which the nation''s edifice rested, he said.
"Tinkering with either of the two can prove dangerous. Respect for democratic values, peace and communal harmony are essential for our country to prosper and emerge as a world power," said the five-time chief minister.
Badal said the imposition of the Emergency by the Indira Gandhi regime had taken everyone, including the political parties, by surprise at a time when India was just finding her feet as an independent and democratic country.
"The Emergency came within 30 years of India''s independence. Democracy in the country was passing through adolescence and many in the world had doubted if India and Indians were mature enough to afford this luxury," he said.
"But I take a special pride that it was at this critical juncture the Shiromani Akali Dal led the fight against the dictatorship with a morcha (movement), which ended only when the Emergency was lifted," he said.
He thanked the press for being the "only other force" to oppose the Emergency.
Badal praised the Indian media for playing a key role in the success of democracy in the country but added that the Fourth Estate was faced with new kind of challenges in modern times, when its freedom is threatened by the ways that are not as direct as was the case during times of Indira Gandhi.
"A strong and independent media is one of the main reasons why the democratic experiment has succeeded in India while it has floundered in many other countries. The success of democracy in India has always intrigued the western observers because they have failed to observe the role played by the Indian media," the Akali patriarch said.
However, Badal said the Fourth Estate (media) would now have to demonstrate even greater character as attacks on its freedom were much more subtle and unnoticeable. VSD RDK RDK
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