When India was celebrating its freedom from the British Raj, Goa was still doomed under the four and a half century rule of the Portuguese.
This charming city of flamboyant colours, abundant with beautiful and aesthetic architecture, breath-taking spectacles of nature, still shows the remnants of the Portuguese footprints in its soil. The influence of Portuguese style and taste can be seen in those tiny lanes, houses, churches, structures; which also stand evident to the potent and brutal rule of the Portuguese.
But the Freedom Struggle of this Land of picturesque terrain, has been lost in the darkness of the setting sun.
The Times Of Terror
Portuguese were the first ones to step foot in India as colonizers in 1510 and were the last ones to leave the Indian soil by liberating Goa on 16th December 1961.
Even after the rest of India got independence, International opinion failed to convince the Portuguese government to give up their rule on Goa.
The bloodiest oppression began in 1540, with the killing of Hindus and Goan Catholics. The previous liberal policies were reversed with strict censorship being brought about in literature and the local Konkani language being suppressed. Non-Christian holy men, priests, professionals were evicted. Temples were broken down, with forced conversions starting to take place, leading the Hindus to flee Goa to other parts of the country, seeking refuge.
Things got worse from 1932, when the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliviera Salazar began. People were denied basic rights of speech, expression, public meeting and the press was censored.
The First Spark Of Freedom
18th June, 1946 marked the beginning of Goa’s steps towards freedom.
It began with the launch of the Civil Disobedience Movement headed by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia and Dr. Juliao Menezes, defying the ban on public meetings. Lohia had come to visit Menezes in his home town of Goa, where the discussions between the two patrons about the current situation led to the first ever movement against the 435 – year Portuguese rule. This movement was crushed with the arrest of Lohia. But this inspired the Goans, like the 13 year old Prabhakar Vitthal Sinari, to fight against this oppressive rule.
Revolutions started to take place inside and outside Goa through tactics like non-violent demonstrations, revolutionary methods and diplomatic efforts.
The Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD) came into being under the leadership of the revolutionaries, Prabhakar Trivikam Viadiya and Vishwanath Lawande, who were assaulted during the movement. They allied with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to fight against the Portuguese.
Nana Kaajrekar, a wrestler from Pune, Sudhir Phadke, a music director and nationalist from Bombay, and many others collaborated with the AGD to form a grand coalition called the United Front of Liberation. Together they attacked Dadra and Nagar Haveli and liberated it.
Newly independent India was reluctant to fight against Portugal, a NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nation.
So Karnataka leader of Jana Sangh, with RSS member Jagannathrao Joshi intervened and decided to carry out a series of Satyagrahas from June to August 1955. But as soon as they stepped foot in Goa, they were beaten and abused by the Portuguese soldiers. Motivated and agitated by this spirit, the Goa Mukti Vimochan Samiti carried out a Satyagraha, with 8000 people participating from all over India. However, 32 people were shot dead and 225 people were injured, as the Portuguese soldiers were given orders to open fire.
The Final Day
In 1961, in the Afro- Asian Conference in Delhi, India’s hypocrisy was questioned, where it was sending troops to free other nations of colonialism, while foreign power still controlled Goa.
With an intention to provoke India and getting underlying help from Pakistan and NATO for the same, the Portuguese shot a steamer in Anjunim in Karwar, killing one fisherman and also tried to keep the villagers as hostages.
Finally, the Defence Minister of India, Krishna Menon persuaded Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, that it was time to use force, and hence Operation Vijay was launched. Where 30,000 Indian troops with full air and naval support were sent to fight against the 3000 ill-prepared Portuguese navy . In less than 48 hours, Goa was liberated from the clutches of terror.
On 18th December 1961, Portuguese General Vassola Da Silva, handed over Goa.
Today, the day is celebrated by hosting a parade at the Azad Maidan in Goa, where they pay honours to the freedom fighters.
If you enjoyed this article, we suggest you read: