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Gandhi curbs civil rights in wake of Punjab violence

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi tightened her grip on the troubled state of Punjab Thursday by introducing security laws allowing detention without trial for up to six months.

An order promulgated by President Zail Singh said the law would be used against people threatening India's defense or security, the security of Punjab State, or the maintenance of public order, essential supplies and services.

Home (interior) Minister P.C. Sethi told Parliament the powers would be used cautiously and stressed they would not be invoked against the government's political opponents.

Opposition members of Parliament immediately denounced the step, which resembles measures introduced by Mrs. Gandhi during the 1975-77 emergency, when she suspended sections of the Constitution and ruled the country with absolute powers.

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