The Indian cabinet decided on Thursday (28 August) to amend the constitution so that federal government has the power to dispatch troops to so-called disturbed areas.
SV & CU Photographs of Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sanjay Gandhi in cabinet building, New Deli, India. (4 SHOTS)
SV Indian Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi seated with cabinet members.
SV PAN FROM CABINET members to Mrs Gandhi.(4 SHOTS)
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Background: The Indian cabinet decided on Thursday (28 August) to amend the constitution so that federal government has the power to dispatch troops to so-called disturbed areas. At present, only state governments can declare local areas under martial law. But following the deaths of more than 155 people in recent widespread violence, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned her country's policy-making body to discuss what action to take.
SYNOPSIS: India's constitution was fashioned by the Gandhi family, and their portraits still decorate the cabinet building. The federal constitution left law enforcement largely up to state authorities. But Mrs. Gandhi's cabinet said on Thursday that it should be up to the federal government to declare any riot region a disturbed area and institute emergency decrees. With a large government majority, the cabinet decision will become law when President Sanjiva reddy has approved the measure.
The new law introduces preventive detention, it empowers the government to arrest or search without warrant and use troops to quell civil disturbances. The cabinet decision comes in response to violence which hit large parts of northern India and resulted in a blockade of crude oil refineries in Assam. Opposition parties have challenged the government over these issues, and Mrs Gandhi's critics say the cabinet decision is reminiscent of her 1975 emergency rule.