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A memorable evening with Vidya Charan Shukla

In this January 3, 1977 photo, V.C. Shukla, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting inaugurates the sixth International Film Festival of India in New Delhi. The Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry which went into the Emergency execesses, had mentioned Shukla's name in its report. Photo: The Hindu Archives / TheHindu.com
In this January 3, 1977 photo, V.C. Shukla, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting inaugurates the sixth International Film Festival of India in New Delhi. The Justice Shah Commission of Inquiry which went into the Emergency execesses, had mentioned Shukla’s name in its report. Photo: The Hindu Archives

By SOHAIL HASHMI: Though the East and the West have great differences in issues cultural, in one matter they are like twin brothers. Both insist we should not speak ill of the dead. This does not apply to Changez Khan, Hitler and Mussolini. Some would add a few more to the list, but there are chances of violent disagreements on some of those names.

There have been honourable deviations from this haloed creed and if my memory serves me right,  at least one of them has been attributed to The Bard, who made Mark Antony declare at the funeral of Caesar, “Friends Romans and Countrymen, we have gathered here to bury Caesar and not to praise him,” or words to that effect.

These were some of the confused musings that floated to the top of the mind when I heard the news of V.C. Shukla’s passing away. Does the fact that he is dead or the dastardly fashion in which death stalked him and ultimately consumed him, give him an escape from his deeds?

It is a commentary on our justice delivery system that V.C. Shukla, one of those who belonged to the coterie that ran the Emergency establishment for Mrs Gandhi, did not spend a long time behind bars for his acts of commission as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Some of his achievements as Minister of Information included snapping power supply to newspapers critical of the Emergency, introducing Draconian censorship, banning magazines and newspapers, and sealing printing presses that dared to publish anything critical of the infamous Mrs G or her Emergency regime. Continue reading A memorable evening with Vidya Charan Shukla