Ravi Shankar Prasad - An Effective Student Leader| Minister for Law and Justice & Information Technology, Govt. of India
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Student Leader

Ravi Shankar Prasad started attending the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Shakhas since early childhood at the Congress Maidan in Kadam Kuan, Patna where he constantly got the guidance of Shri Govindacharya. His childhood was shaped up by great leaders like Shri Nanaji Deshmukh, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee and Shri Lal Krishna Advani.

He joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad at the age of 15. In 1972, he was elected as the Assistant General Secretary in the Patna University Students Union. Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav was the President and Shri Sushil Kumar Modi was the General Secretary.

India was witnessing a rising tide against corruption of the Congress Party led government. In the latter half of 1972, a Steering Committee was formed under the leadership Shri Govindacharya. This committee had Shri Nitish Kumar, Shri Narndra Singh, Shri Vashishth Narayan Singh and Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad as members. The committee decided to intensify their struggle against corruption.

On 18th March, 1973 the students led by Shri Thakur Prasad gheraoed the Bihar Legislative Assembly. Police lathichagerd against the agitating students and the very next day Shri Thakur Prasad was arrested. Young leaders like Shri Sushil Modi, Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav, Shri Nitish Kumar and Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad continued the agitation after the arrest of Shri Thakur Prasad. Shri Thakur Prasad was released after seven days in prison.

This movement against corruption got further credibility and encouragement when Shri Jai Prakash Narayan took the leadership. Shri Thakur Prasad staged a protest against the government outside the assembly building which made big headlines in leading dailies and was covered by the All India Radio.

While this upsurge against corruption was getting intensified, the Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on 12th June 1975 which declared the election of the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi as null and void for resorting to electoral malpractices. Encouraged by this verdict Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan at a huge rally at Delhi’s Boat Club exhorted the defence forces and people of India to unseat the Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Nervous Congress Party and the Prime Minister responded to this situation by proclaiming National Emergency in the country on 25th June, 1975.

Repressive impact of National Emergency was immediate and all leaders protesting against the corruption of ruling government were arrested the very next day. Shri Jai Prakash Narayan, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, Shri Lal Krishan Advani, Shri Madhu Limye, Shri Chandra Shekhar, Shri Krishna Kant, Shri Mohan Dharia were arrested and put behind bars in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Leaders like Shri Nanaji Deshmukh, Shri Govindacharya, Shri Sushil Modi and Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad went underground. A few months later in August, 1975 Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad was also arrested and put behind the Bankipur Central Jail in Patna.

Nearly one year after his arrest, Shri Thakur Prasad got Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav released from jail. Shri Thakur Prasad who was an eminent lawyer of the Patna High Court got nearly two thousand students arrested during Emergency released from jail.

The impact of student activism on Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad was so profound that he would hardly find any time for studies. See this, his father close friend Shri Kailash Rai once scolded him for ignore his studies and gave a challenge to perform well in examinations. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad gracefully accepted this challenge and decided to strike a balance between studies and student activism. When he decided to focus on studies after getting released from jail, he found difficult to sit patiently for few hours and focus of studies. But his commitment to excel in examination was so deep that he told his family members to tie him with a rope on his study chair during his study time. That’s how he wrote his examinations and came out with flying colors.

While he was pursuing his Masters from Patna University, he was elected for the prestigious Senate Committee of the University. First time in the history of the University, a student was elected to this body which invariably comprised of teachers. Thereafter he joined the LL.B. at the Patna University and obtained a degree in 1980. Thereafter he joined the Bar and started practicing as Advocate at the Patna High Court.

Immediately after starting his practice in the Patna High Court, he championed the cause of civil liberties through the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and got many Naxal activist freed from jail.