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Goa History

The Name

In the later Vedic period (c.1000-500 BC) when the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” was written, Goa has been referred to with the Sanskrit name “Gomantak”, a word with many meanings , signifying mostly a fertile land; but however, it is the Portuguese who gave Goa its name. Before they arrived on the scene, Goa, or Gove or Gowapura, was the name only of the port town near the mouth of the Mandovi River. This was also the same site on which the Portuguese later built their capital, today’s Old Goa.

Mythology and Legend

Legend ( and history to some extent) has it that a section of Saraswat Brahmins, (one of the sub-sects of Brahmins who eat fish) became the first wave of Brahmins to settle in Goa. This group of Brahmins were called Saraswats because of their origins from the banks of the River Saraswati, an ancient river that existed in Vedic times. The river Saraswati subsequently dried up and caused large scale migration of this group of Brahmins to all corners of India. A group of ninety-six families, known today as Gaud Saraswats, settled along the Konkan coast in and around today’s Goa somewhere around 1000 BC. They reportedly took the sea route and did not use land routes. These groups settled in Tiswadi, Salcete, Bardesh, Pernem and Kudal. The first group of Saraswat Brahmins who settled in the Goa area were called “Sastikars” because they settled in the eight villages of Sasti taluka. Today’s Salcete taluka derives its name from the Sanskrit word “Sassast” meaning the number 66, Tiswadi derived from the Sanskrit word for the number 30, and Bardesh/Bardez derived from the Sanskrit word for the number 12. Their settlements called as agraharas set the pace for agriculture and development in the area in partnership with the local indigenous people, the Kumbhis. The earliest “Matha” of the Saraswat community was the “Kavle Math” founded in 740 AD and established at Kushasthali near Keloshi in Goa. This Math was subsequently destroyed by the Portuguese in 1564 but the tradition continued on elsewhere.

This early land reclamation by the Saraswats also provides the basis of a very popular theory of origin of Goa, with its basis as recorded in the “Skanda Purana”. It is said that Lord Vishnu, in his sixth incarnation as “Lord Parashurama” shot an arrow from the top of the western ghats into the sea. He then commanded the sea or “Lord Samudra” to withdraw where the arrow fell and claimed that land to be his kingdom, that exact spot is reportedly “Benali” (in Sanskrit for ‘where the arrow landed’), or today’s Benaulim, the land around it , today’s Goa. He is also said to have brought the Brahmins from Trihotra in north India and settled them in Goa. This is considered today to be more mythology than history.

The Early era

Goa was a part of the Mauryan empire of Emperor Ashoka. It has been known to other cultures by different names. Some of the names it was known by in the ancient world are as follows

Indian

Aparant, Gomant, Govarashtra, Goparastra, Govapuri, Gopakpuri, Gopakapattana, Gove. The last four being the names of its capital.

Greek

Chersonesus or Nelikinda (Periplus), Nekanidon (Pliny), Melinda or Tricadiba Insula (Ptolemy), Nincilda (Peutingerian tables), Sibo.

Arabic

Sindabur, Chintabur, Cintabor.

The Hindu era

The Hindu dynasties controlled Goa for the next 700 years. The various dynasties that controlled Goa during this period are, the Scytho-parthians (2nd -4th century AD), the Abhiras, Batpura, and the Bhojas ( 4th – 6th century AD), the Chalukyas ( from 6th – 8th century AD) and the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed (8th to 10th Century AD). This was followed by the Kadambas (1006 AD-1356 AD).
The Kadambas were unique because they were a local dynasty that slowly came to dominate the scene by forging alliances with their neighbors and overlords, the Chalukyas. They made Chandrapur (Chandor) their capital (937 AD to 1310 AD). They subsequently moved their capital to Govapuri on the banks of the Zuari river, the site of today’s Goa Velha. The Kadambas are credited with constructing the first settlement on the site of Old Goa in the middle of the 11th century, when it was called Thorlem Gorem. The period of the Kadambas is considered to be the first golden age of Goa. The death of the last Chalukya king in 1198 weakened their alliance and this exposed Goa to the vulnerability to Muslim invasions that took place continuously after that.

The Muslim era

The invasion of Goa by the Bahamini Kingdom in 1350 brought about complete destruction to Goa, its temples and its institutions. The invaders, driven by fanatic zeal destroyed temples, murdered priests and systematically looted their wealth. Many deities got moved to safer areas, only one survives to this very day- the Shree Mahadev Temple at Tambdi Surla. The end of the first period of the Bahamini rule was following their defeat by the the Hindu Empire of Vijayanagar (14-15th century AD). The Bahaminis returned again in 1470 and won and with that victory, Goa became a part of the Muslim Bahmani Kingdom of the Deccan (15th century). The Bahaminis created a new city to facilitate trade on the northern banks of the river Mandovi, a city they called Ela. In 1492, the Bahmani Kingdom split into five kingdoms, namely Bidar, Berar, Ahmadnagar, Golconda and Bijapur. One of the kingdoms namely Bijapur (which was the capital of the territory) included Goa and was ruled by Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah Khan.

The Early Portuguese era.

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut, in present day Kerala in 1498. This discovery and the establishment of a new sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope gave an impetus to to the Portuguese who wanted very much to exploit it to their advantage and profit from it. They soon realized that they had to have a permanent trading post established to effectively do so. Repeated attempts to do just that along the malabar coast ( controlled by the Zamorin of Calicut) of India proved difficult and finally they decided to try their luck northwards along the coast.

In 1510 under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque they laid siege upon Goa, then under Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur. On February 17th he entered the city of Goa for the first time and met little resistance as the Sultan was engaged with his forces elsewhere. Sultan Adil Shah soon came after him with a vengeance and and on May 23rd 1510 Alfonso de Albuquerque had to flee the city of Goa. Determined to win it for good, Alfonso de Albuquerque made another attempt a few months later with the help of a Hindu Chieftain called Timoja . This time his timing could not have been more than perfect. Sultan Adil Shah had just died and the heir to the throne was the infant Ismail Adil Shah. Ela or the city of Goa was under Rasul Khan, one of his generals. After an initial attack on the Arsenal and a quick and bloody battle, Alfonso de Albuquerque victoriously entered the city of Ela, Goa on St. Catherine’s Day, November 25th 1510 .

As revenge for his earlier defeat, he massacred and decimated all of the city’s Muslim population over the next three days. He however spared the Hindu population and appointed Timoja as his Thanedar. By 1543, the Portuguese were able to extend their control over Salcette, Mormugao and Bardez, thus ending their first phase of expansion into Goa. The territories of Ilhas, Salcette, Mormugao and Bardez formed part of the Portugal’s “Velhas Conquestas” or Old Conquests, and formed only one fifth of the total area of modern Goa. By this time, Goa became the jewel of Portugal’s eastern empire.

Golden Goa

By the end of the 16th century, Goa had already reached its peak and was referred to as “Golden Goa” or “Lisbon of the East”. With the Portuguese, came their religion. Albuquerque’s interests initially was only commerce as a result, the Portuguese were quite tolerant of the Hindus though the same was not with the Muslims. From 1540 onwards, with the arrival of the dreaded “Inquisition” in Goa, Portugal’s liberal policy towards the Hindus was reversed. 1542 saw the arrival of St. Francis Xavier and the Jesuits to Goa. The saint left a lasting impression on Goa and is regarded today as Goencho Saib or the Patron Saint of Goa. For more on the Saint click on Goencho Saib.

The decline of Golden Goa

By the mid 17th century, Goa’s decline as a commercial port began to mirror the decline of Portuguese power in the East as a result of several military losses to the Dutch and the British. The Dutch had taken control over the spice trade – the original reason for Portugal’s eastern expansion. Brazil had now supplanted Goa as the economic center of Portugal’s overseas empire.

The war with the Marathas and the New Conquests

The first attack was by Sambhaji, son of Shivaji’ defeat was narrowly averted by the appearance of their rivals, the Mughals on the scene. The second attack in 1737 was led by King Shahu, grandson of Shivaji and this ended in a truce. The treaty of may 1739 gave control of Portugal’s northern Indian provinces including Bassein to the Marathas in return for the withdrawal of Maratha forces from Goa. In 1741, the Marathas invaded Bardez and Salcete and threatened the city of Goa itself. Fortunately for the Portuguese, a new viceroy, the Marquis of Lourical arrived with substantial reinforcements and defeated the Marathas in Bardez. During this period, the Portuguese slowly expanded their territories which enabled them to extend their control over Bicholim and Satari (in 1780-1781), then Pernem later that decade and finally Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona in 1791. These acquisitions known as the” Novas Conquestas ” were quickly integrated with the Velhas Conquestas consisting of Salcette, Bardez and Tiswadi. This second and final phase of Portuguese expansion was rather different from their initial conquests. By the time these territories were added, their attitude had changed and their zeal for religious conversions had died down. In a strange quirk of fate they banned the order of Jesuits in 1759, because they believed them to be puppets of the pope in Rome. By 1835, all religious orders were banned, and the Hindu majority were granted the freedom to practice their religion. As a result, the “New Conquests” retained their Hindu identity, a characteristic feature that persists even today, and this is also why there is a religious/cultural/language or dialect difference existing in Goa between the Talukas of Tiswadi, Bardez, Salcette and Mormugao on one side and Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari, Ponda, Sangem, Quepem and Canacona on other.

The language

Sanskrit was used as the official in Goa and throughout Konkan for many centuries. Konkani evolved much later. Until recently, it was believed that there was hardly any evidence of Konkani literature before the arrival of the Christian missionaries. This has since been disputed. Fr. Thomas Stephens an Englishman and one of the early missionary Jesuit scholars is credited with writing the first book in Konkani. His magnum opus being the “Krista Purana ” or “The story of Christ”, written in the style of Hindu Folklore. He subsequently also produced his other classic “Doutrina Cristao”, a compendium of Christian doctrines in Konkani. The late Dr. Pissurlencar and others, believe that the Konkani works he had discovered at Braga, were translations from Marathi for the use of the Christian missionaries only. The missionaries studied both Marathi and Konkani texts and therefore did not probably need the Konkani translations of the same books. Hence his and some other’s conclusion was that they were meant for the use of the common people who could not read them in the original. There is also evidence that the clergy promoted Portuguese, made a strong attempt in the seventeenth century to destroy konkani as they thought that it would help convert more to Christianity. In spite of all this until 1961 only 5% spoke Portuguese, mostly in administration and in the commercial sector. It was only after liberation and statehood did the dream of Konkani as the state language saw realization.

Christianity in Portuguese Goa

The Portuguese introduced Christianity to Goa. One of Vasco da Gama’s goals in finding the sea route to India was to find new Christians. Upon landing at Calicut in 1498 he was surprised to find a thriving Christian community established by one of the Last Apostles of Jesus, St. Thomas. This however did not stop the Portuguese from promoting their own brand of European Christianity- Roman Catholicism.

The first missionaries sent to India after the discovery of the sea route were some Dominican Friars who came as chaplains of the Fleet on Albuquerque’s ships. Soon a church dedicated to St. Catherine was set up after the conquest. The significance being the victorious conquest of Goa on St. Catherine’s day, November 25th 1510.

The next group that was more successful in propagating Christianity was the Franciscans, who arrived in Goa in 1517. For the next quarter century they were active in conversions not only in Goa but also the bordering areas of India. Upon hearing of this success, Pope Paul II subsequently raised the status of Goa to an Episcopal. He appointed the First Bishop to take charge who unfortunately never made it to India as he died soon after appointment. The Pope then appointed the Episcopal authority to Dom Fr. Joao da Albuquerque, who took charge of the diocese in 1538.

The most successful group to arrive soon after were the Jesuits of the newly formed Society of Jesus. With the arrival of St. Francis Xavier S.J., one of its founders, the activity of the Jesuits went into overdrive. Goa became the base for Fr. Francis Xavier’s voyages to the east. His preaching of the gospel took him to Macao, Japan, Philippines and at the doors of China. His untimely death on the desolate island of Sancian in the South China Sea put an end to his career but not his legend. The saga of the incorruptibility of his body eventually led to his canonization and sainthood in 1622 and his relics preserved for posterity at the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa.

The other Missionary and religious orders that settled in Goa include the Dominicans in 1572, The Theatines in 1640, Order of St. John in 1681 and the Carmelites in the 1700’s. The only nunnery in Goa was the Monastery of St. Monica, established in 1606.

The era of religious repression

Alfonso de Albuquerque had not interfered with Hindu religious practices apart from forbidding the practice of Sati. He also did not destroy any temples during his reign. From 1540 onwards , under the influence of the counter reformation in Europe and with the arrival of the Inquisition to Goa, this liberal policy was reversed. A strict censorship of literature was soon imposed. New laws forbade the public profession of any other religion except the Catholic religion. Even the Syrian Christians who had been in India before the Portuguese were treated as heretics along with the Jews and Protestants. Hindus also came to be affected and they were accused of being disrespectful to Christianity. An edict by the Viceroy in 1576 required the destruction of all Hindu temples in Portuguese controlled Goa along with banning of ritual ablutions and the expulsions of non Christian priests, holy men and preachers. Hindus were forbidden to visit Temples in adjoining areas not controlled by the Portuguese and were compelled in some cases to attend Churches and listen to the Gospel. Social intercourse between Christians and non Christians was discouraged. Christian converts were favored in the appointments of Goans to public office and some positions were even reserved for these new converts.

The law on paper still laid down that the “Conversion to Christianity of people from other religions had to be by persuasion and not by force”. This however was not practiced in reality. An exception to this law was made in 1559 when a decree ordered Hindu orphan children to be handed over to the College of Sao Paolo so that they could be baptized and educated as Christians by the College.

The converts usually took on the name of the priest or the College who or where they were baptized. After conversion, they were expected to make a clean break from their Hindu past. Not only were their names changed but also their food habits, social customs and even dress had to conform to the way of living of the European Christians. Several old Hindu practices were enhanced in their christianized versions. The place of honor given to the family deity was now given to the Oratorio. The flame burned before a crucifix and various Christian saints . The Tulsi plant in front of the house gave way to the Cross in front of Christian homes and Christian prayers now accompanied pre marriage ceremonies. In the village , the Novem ( harvest procession) was headed by a Christian priest instead of a Hindu one and he also performed the traditional blessing of the first sheaves of Paddy.

The Portuguese also implemented the compulsory learning of the Portuguese Language under the Viceroy, Count of Alvor ( 1681-1686). He compelled Goans to give up Konkani and this caused a significant number of people to flee Goa to neighboring India. The result of all these actions was that in 1707, there were 100,000 Christians to 3000 Hindus in Salcette and a similar ratio in other areas of the Old Conquests.

This repressive policy of the Portuguese continued until the mid 1700’s and underwent a complete U turn due to one individual-The Marquis of Pombal.

Pombal and the Jesuit expulsion

Sebastian Jose de Carvalho, later to be the Marquis of Pombal was the Prime Minister to the King of Portugal, Dom Joseph I. He was appointed in 1750 and was propelled to power by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. He successfully masterminded the rebuilding of Lisbon and this made him very powerful and influential in the eyes of the King and the court. The assassination attempt on the King on September 8th 1758 gave him an opportunity to purge his enemies and did so with a vengeance. These included the ex-Duke Alvario, the Marcioness of Tavora and her husband and two sons and the Jesuit fathers. All the conspirators were executed. In 1761, Pombal issued an edict confiscating all Jesuit property to the crown and arrested and imprisoned all the Jesuits. A total of 53 Jesuit priests were executed as co-conspirators in the assassination plot. The Jesuit leader, Fr. Malagrida was hanged and others burned at the stake. All of the remaining Jesuits were expelled from Portugal.

The fallout of the Jesuit expulsion had its immediate ramifications on all aspects of life in Goa. The most important effect was felt on education. Replacing Jesuit teachers and professors was an arduous task. The greatest impact was however felt on the commercial front. The Jesuits had invested vast amount of their resources in every sphere of commercial activity in Portuguese Asia and were involved in shipping, building, trade and finance. They were the custodians of the crown funds, managers of Goa’s Royal Hospital and responsible for the upkeep of the fortifications and minting of coins at some places. They also owned large tracts of land all over.

The most important other decision of Pombal that had far reaching effects and was welcomed by all was the suppression of the Inquisition in 1774. For more on the Goa Inquisition, please check out the Goa Inquisition page.

Pombal’s Legacy

It appears that Goa was Pombal’s greatest beneficiary. Though the expulsion of the Jesuits was controversial, the suppression of the Inquisition was welcomed by all. There was however more. For more than half a century before his coming to power, local Goan priests were used by the clergy to do the low rung work. They were never promoted or appointed to higher positions. The Cathedral chapter, the Vicarships and the professorships in Goa were all filled by Europeans only. Pombal’s historic decrees of 1761 and 1763 among others, called for opening up the the Clergy and various religious orders for all subjects irrespective of their being white or native in origin. As a result of this, the first Goan was appointed to the Cathedral chapter in 1762. Soon the Vicarships went to eligible locals. The Religious orders who had earlier refused to admit natives in their ranks a few years ago began accepting Goans. The local Theatines were the first to do so and soon all other religious orders followed suit.

The period from 1820s to 1920s are regarded as one of the best times for Goans with regards to religious and political freedom. Portugal was a monarchy until 1910 and was replaced by democracy and was declared a republic. Goans were given representation in the Portuguese parliament. All citizens, be they Hindus, Christians etc were guaranteed individual freedom and liberty under the civil code. All this changed in 1928 with the dictatorship under Dr. Antonio Salazar. His ‘Acta Colonial” denied everything promised previously and Goans were back to square one.

Prelude to liberation-The early years

From the very beginning, since the conquest by Albuquerque in 1510, there were many unsuccessful attempts to overthrow the Portuguese. The earliest revolt took place in 1550 when the people of Assolna, Velim, Cuncolim, Ambelim and Veroda launched an attack on the colonialists but they failed in their attempt. Their properties were confiscated. Their leaders were arrested and executed.

Then came the well known and well organized plot, called the “Pinto Revolt” in 1787. The leaders of the plot were some prominent priests of Goa belonging to the “Pinto Family” who had the support of some military officers of Goan origin. A large number of arrests were made and criminal proceedings launched against its leaders. 47 members of the group were arrested and prosecuted as plotters including 17 priests.

On 14th January 1835, a Goan, Bernardo Peres de Silva, was appointed Perfect with the powers of Governor of Goa by the government of Queen Maria II of Portugal. He was born not far away from Old Goa and received his education at the Rachol seminary, the Goa Medical School and then Portugal. There he became politically active as a liberal and this eventually led to his appointment to Goa as the “Perfect or Governor”, the first and the last native Goan to be so appointed. His appointment was not liked by his counter factions at Lisbon and he was compelled to relinquish his post soon after his arrival at Goa. After being in office for only 17 days, he was arrested by the military on February 1st 1835. A new Governor, the previous Viceroy Manuel de Portugal e Castro was appointed in his place. Bernardo Peres de Silva was deported to Bombay and the army took control of Goa during the interim period. In the counter-revolution that followed, a faction of the army loyal to him took control of Terekhol fort and invited him back .This eventually resulted in a showdown at Terekhol fort where his supporters lost in spite of British support. His supporters and troops loyal to him were massacred and he subsequently took refuge in India and never returned back to Goa.

Bernardo Peres de Silva

The Ranes of Goa based in Sattari and Sanquelim have been well known for their attempts to dislodge the Portuguese from Goa. In all there were reportedly about fourteen rebellions out of which the most successful one was organized by Dipaji Rane in 1852. He carried on the fight against the Portuguese for three and half years and eventually the Portuguese government made peace with him. The Portuguese agreed to extend protection to village institutions, abandon repressive religious measures and grant general amnesty. Dipaji Rane was awarded a sword of honor and the honorary title of Captain. There was another unsuccessful revolt in 1895 by Dada Rane. The final revolt of the Ranes took place in 1912. There were two distinct groups fighting the cause, one led by Mourya Sawant from the north and the other by Jhil Sawant from the south. They were joined by Quistulo, who was a Christian toddy- tapper. The Portuguese government ordered their contingent of Negro troops all the way from Mozambique to assist them in quelling the revolt. They ultimately succeeded and the three leaders were taken. Quistulo was shot dead at Assonora in the house of his mistress who was bribed by the Portuguese to give away his whereabouts. Mourya Sawant was beheaded whilst asleep; and Jhil Sawant was caught, imprisoned and finally deported to the island of Principe in Portuguese West Africa, where he died in exile.

Alongside these rebellions was the attempt by some members of Goa’s indigenous elite to participate in the colonial and national governments of Portugal. A western educated elite emerged in Goa who tried to reform their relationship with the Portuguese. As early as 1822 Goans were permitted to elect, on a franchise determined by property and religious affiliation, two representatives to the Portuguese parliament. In 1910 official discrimination against Hindus was repealed which in turn led to an outburst of intellectual, cultural and political life in Goa.

Unfortunately, in 1926 all of this activity ended in Goa, as well as in Portugal. This happened because in 1926 Portugal was taken over by right-wing Prime minister Dr. Antonio de Salazar who subsequently became a dictator. In 1933 Salazar’s ” Acta Colonial” rescinded the limited franchise earlier available to Goans. Many of Goa’s educated elite, discouraged by this sudden and unexpected reversal, emigrated to Bombay. It was primarily in Bombay that nationalist movements arose to challenge Portuguese colonialism. The most influential Goan nationalist, Tristao de Braganza Cunha, established a relationship with the Indian National Congress. It was his expectation, as well as Nehru’s, that once the British had left the subcontinent, Goa would almost immediately be abandoned by the Portuguese government.

Prelude to Liberation – The Indian influence

The suppression of liberties in Goa under the Salazar dictatorship brought the socialist leader Dr. Rammanohar Lohia from India to Goa. At a public meeting in Margao on 18th June 1946, he launched a movement for civil liberties which set in motion a mass movement for freedom from the Portuguese rule. The satyagraha movement in Goa subsequently continued up to November 1946 during which period a number of leaders were arrested for defying the ban on civil liberties. However by the end of 1946, the satyagraha movement had died down. The Portuguese government then began adopting repressive measures to root out the movement from Goa.

In 1949 Nehru’s government sent a mission to Lisbon to negotiate with the Portuguese government about the withdrawal from Goa. To Nehru’s surprise, the Portuguese government refused to even discuss the matter, let alone the issue. By 1953, the Indian mission was closed and diplomatic relations between the governments were conducted through intermediaries.

The Portuguese dictator Salazar defended his position in a speech presented to the Portuguese National Assembly on November, 30 1954. He said,” The extension of Indian sovereignty to include Goa is not a prospect opened up by, or an anticipation of, the evolution of history; it is a political goal which India’s present leaders suppose it their duty to achieve in order to fulfill their mission…It is always historical facts, and not geographical outline, that fix frontiers, institute rights and impose sovereignties….For the Indian Union to claim to turn the clock of history back to the 15Ith century, to come forward now and make out that she already existed potentially at that time, or to set herself up as the rightful heir of those whom we found holding sway there, is a fancy of static dreamers; it is not for the dynamic shapers of history that the men who received an empire from England want to be”.

India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on July 26, 1955 in an address to the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, said ” Although it does not require that anything should be said in justification of our claim to Goa, I shall, nevertheless, venture to mention a few facts…There is of course the geographical argument. The Portuguese Government claims that Goa is a part of Portugal. That remark is so illogical and absurd that it is rather difficult to deal with….It has no relation to facts…I am not going into the old history of the Portuguese possession of Goa; but I think many members will remember that this history is a very dark chapter of India’s history”.

A few weeks later, on September 17 1955 , Nehru said “In Goa, we have a remarkable picture of the sixteenth century facing the twentieth century, of a decadent colonialism facing a resurgent Asia, of a free independent India being affronted and insulted by the Portuguese authorities, of, in fact, Portugal functioning in a way which, to any thinking person, is so amazing in its incongruity in the modern world that he is a little taken aback”.
The National Congress (Goa) which was already functioning in Goa began its operations in Bombay; the other parties formed were the Azad Gomantak Dal, the United Front of Goans, the Goa Liberation Council, the Goan People’s Party, the Quit Goa Organization, etc. The National Congress as well as the Liberation Council believed in non-violence while the Azad Gomantak Dal committed itself to fight the regime by whatever means, including the use of arms . It began attacking the Portuguese troops guarding the frontiers, blowing up ammunition dumps and police stations. The Portuguese Government in the meantime began arming, with troop concentrations in Goa and appeared to be ready to declare war on India. The Portuguese Dictator Salazar refused to negotiate with India.

Prelude to Liberation – Nehru’s unheeded warning

The Government of India maintained a low profile until 1961. In October 1961, a seminar was held in New Delhi on “Portuguese Colonialism”. It was well attended by representatives from around the world and also from the existing Portuguese colonies around the world. This has been reported to have brought a change in Jawaharlal Nehru’s thinking about the issue which until then was “through peaceful negotiation”. Following the conclusion of the seminar he is reported to have publicly made a statement at Bombay, he said ” We have to think afresh now because of the happenings in Goa, particularly in the last few months, cases of torture have come to our notice and the terror that is spread there by the Portuguese. When I say afresh, I mean that we have been forced in to thinking afresh by the Portuguese to adopt other means to solve this problem. When and how we do it cannot be forecast now. But I have no doubt that Goa will soon be free”. This warning was ignored by the Portuguese and Salazar and the subsequent events changed Goan history forever.

Liberation – Finally after 450 years

On December 17, 1961 India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the military invasion and liberation of Goa. A Portuguese army of 3,000 ill-equipped troops was outnumbered by 30,000 Indian troops, supported by the Indian air force and navy. The Portuguese Governor general Vassalo da Silva surrendered.

Last Portuguese Governor general Vassalo da Silva

Within three days Goa was integrated into India in a near bloodless operation-“Operation Vijay ” on December 19th 1961. The other Portuguese territories of Daman and Diu were also taken over at around the same time and thus was formed the “Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu”.

December 19th is celebrated as Goa Liberation Day.

References:

http://goacentral.com/Goahistory/Historyofgoa.htm#Golden Goa

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