Por­tuguese pos­ses­sions-i

A two-part dis­cus­sion of the Por­tuguese in­tran­si­gence, as well as In­dia’s re­luc­tance to ‘merge’ the Por­tuguese ter­ri­to­ries by force, even though there was much pop­u­lar fer­ment in Goa for in­te­gra­tion

Millennium Post - - Beyond By Gone -

The next change on the map was a piece of ‘black tape’ on wher­ever Goa, Da­man & Diu and Dadra & Na­gar Haveli were shown on the map of In­dia. The map of 1961 had been printed much be­fore Goa was lib­er­ated in a fairly smooth op­er­a­tion (Op­er­a­tion Vi­jay, led by Gen­eral JN Chaud­huri) which lasted for less than a day and a half, start­ing from the morn­ing of De­cem­ber 18. The in­stru­ment of sur­ren­der was signed at 2 pm on De­cem­ber 19 by Por­tuguese Gov­er­nor-gen­eral Manuel An­tónio Vas­salo e Silva at Vasco da Gama, the then cap­i­tal of Goa. How­ever the big ques­tion about the lib­er­a­tion of Goa is not about what hap­pened in De­cem­ber 1961, but why it took In­dia so long to set­tle the Goan ques­tion es­pe­cially be­cause the free­dom move­ment in Goa had taken roots as early as 1928 when TB Cunha founded the Goa Congress Com­mit­tee. Just as In­dia was protest­ing against the visit of Si­mon Com­mis­sion, the Goans were ag­i­tat­ing against the 1930 Colo­nial Act of Por­tu­gal which made a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween Por­tu­gal and the overseas ter­ri­to­ries. Mean­while, Congress played an im­por­tant role in get­ting back the Kunbi work­ers from Goa who were work­ing in ‘mis­er­able, and slave-like con­di­tions in the Bri­tish plan­ta­tions in As­sam’. Dur­ing his Pres­i­dency in 1938, Sub­hash Bose es­tab­lished the Pro­vi­sional Goa Congress Com­mit­tee in Bom­bay to work with the par­ent body in Goa for the restora­tion of civil lib­er­ties and to ag­i­tate for re­spon­si­ble gov­er­nance in Goa. In March 1946, the res­o­lu­tion of the Goa Congress read ‘The Goa Congress com­mit­tee ad­heres to the na­tional call of Quit In­dia de­mand of the INC and call upon the Por­tuguese to leave the shores of Goa, Da­man and Diu so that we can achieve our des­tiny in com­mon with the rest of In­dia.’ In 1946, the first civil disobe­di­ence move­ment against the Por­tuguese rule was launched in Goa un­der the lead­er­ship of Dr Lo­hia, and for the first time, the Goan na­tion­al­ists and In­dian free­dom fight­ers held hands to break the ar­ti­fi­cial di­vide be­tween Goans and In­di­ans. Ma­hatma Gandhi wrote in the Har­i­jan ‘He (Lo­hia) has thereby ren­dered a ser­vice to the cause of civil lib­erty and es­pe­cially to the Goans. The small Por­tuguese set­tle­ment, which merely ex­ists on the suf­fer­ance of the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, can ill af­ford to ape its bad man­ners’. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Durga Das, a con­tem­po­rary chron­i­cler of his­tory, there was some dif­fer­ence of opin­ion among the In­dian lead­ers about the tim­ing for the lib­er­a­tion of the for­eign pos­ses­sions of In­dia. Pa­tel wanted im­me­di­ate ac­tion, but Nehru and Gandhi were will­ing to en­ter into diplo­matic par­leys with the French and the Por­tuguese. Much to the con­ster­na­tion of the Goan na­tion­al­ists, the For­eign Of­fice of In­dia was tak­ing a ‘le­gal­is­tic view’. It was ob­vi­ous that while the na­tion­al­ists looked at Goa as an in­ter­nal is­sue, Prime Min­is­ter Nehru and the For­eign Min­istry were quite fine with seek­ing in­ter­na­tional me­di­a­tion on this. Much was made of our op­po­si­tion to Por­tu­gal’s mem­ber­ship of the UN, but fi­nally, Por­tu­gal did se­cure a place in the UN and promptly filed a case against In­dia in the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice about their ‘right of pas­sage’ to Dadra & Na­gar Haveli in 1955. Both In­dia and Por­tu­gal claimed vic­tory, for while the ICJ up­held the Por­tuguese claim, it de­nied them the right of pas­sage to their ter­ri­tory!

The case is in­ter­est­ing, for it also shows that while the MEA was en­gaged in diplo­matic niceties, Goanese ac­tivists un­der the ban­ner of Azad Go­man­tak Dal from Bom­bay marched to Dadra in the mid­night of July 21, 1954, and took over the po­lice sta­tion and hoisted the Tri­colour. Later, they were joined by the vol­un­teers of the RSS and Goa Peo­ples Party and In­dia’s flag was un­furled at Sil­vassa from Au­gust 2, 1954. From 1954 to 1961, the ‘Var­ishta Pan­chayat of

Free Dadra and Na­gar Haveli’ held sway. The Var­ishta Pan­chayat, hav­ing al­ready voted to join In­dia that June, ap­pointed the Ad­min­is­tra­tor, KG Bad­lani, a mem­ber of the IAS as the Prime Min­is­ter, putting him on par with Nehru, and a le­gal sig­na­tory to the doc­u­ment of ac­ces­sion to In­dia on Au­gust 11, 1961!

The writer is the Di­rec­tor of LBSNAA and Honorary Cu­ra­tor, Val­ley of Words: Lit­er­a­ture and Arts Fes­ti­val, Dehradun

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