Story of Goa's freedom, a forgotten fight of independence
History & Classics  

While India attained independence from the British Raj on 15 August, 1947, Goa was still languishing under four and a half century of Portuguese rule. The Portuguese were among the very first to colonise parts of India, and were the last to leave.


Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule on December 19, 1961. Armed guerrillas, satyagrahis, journalists and even legendary film artists fought for Goa's independence.
It is a forgotten war of freedom.
While the rest of the country was celebrating independence, the days were still gloomy in Goa. Even after Independence, pockets of the country remained under foreign rule. The French gave up Pondicherry but Portugal continued to challenge India's claim on its coastal enclave of Goa. International opinion failed to convince the Portuguese Government to change its stand.
By 1540, the bloodiest period of inquisition began with the persecution of Hindus and Goan Catholics, as well as the suppression of the Konkani language. They destroyed Hindu temples and placed prohibitions on Hindu marriage rituals.
Hindus voluntarily converting to Christianity were exempted from land taxes for 15 years. People were denied the right to speech, assembly and press.
June 18, 1946, was the beginning of the end of the Portuguese rule in India.
Dr Ram Manohar Lohia had visited Goan academician and writer Dr Juliao Menezes for a medical examination in Bombay where Menezes invited Lohia to his house in
Assolna, Goa. Accepting the invitation, Lohia arrived in Goa and stayed at the residence of Menezes, where the two stalwarts discussed the situation prevailing in Goa during that period and decided to defy the ban on public meetings imposed by the Portuguese Government. This was the first civil disobedience movement against the then 435-year-old Portuguese rule.
While Lohia was arrested and the movement quashed, it inspired Goans. People began to meet, organise and strategise. It left a lasting impression on the minds of a number of young Goans like Prabhakar Vitthal Sinari, who was just 13 years old during the movement.
Along with the revolutionaries was Nana Kaajrekar, a wrestler from Pune, Sudhir Phadke, a music director and nationalist from Bombay and many others. They collaborated with the Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD) to form a grand coalition called the United Front of Liberation.
Famous playback singer Lata Mangeshkar also contributed to this fight for freedom. She performed at a concert in Pune to help the revolutionaries raise money to buy arms to free Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli from Portuguese rule.


The involvement of the young Indian government in this was very low initially. Since Portugal was a part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Indian government was not ready to get into a conflict with a NATO nation.
However, when in 1961, at the Afro-Asian Conference in Delhi, India's hypocritical stance on Goa was questioned. In November 1961, the Portuguese provoked India by firing at Indian steamers and fishing boats, killing one fisherman and they also tried to pull out villagers and take them hostage.
Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister prevailed upon Jawaharlal Nehru that it was time to use force. 30,000 Indian troops with full air and naval support were sent to fight, and in less than 48 hours, Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule.



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