India became independent on 15 August 1947. But it would be 14 more years before Goa became a part of the country. On Goa Liberation Day, let’s recall how the Indian armed forces launched a massive operation that finally drove the Portuguese out.
Long Build-Up To Goa Liberation Day
The Portuguese were the first to come to India and occupy Indian territories. By 1510, they had set up their base in Goa. They later occupied Daman and Diu as well. Over the next few decades, they went about establishing trade and commerce between India and Europe.
They also converted a large number of Goans to the Catholic faith. The Portuguese would go on to rule Goa, Daman, and Diu with an iron fist for over 450 years.
When the British left and India became independent in 1947, the people of Goa too began talking of freedom from Portuguese rule.Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia joined the demand for Goa’s freedom.
Lohia, and others who raised their voice against Portuguese rule, were arrested and the freedom movement was subdued.
India kept asking the Portuguese to leave – even the French had given up their claim on Pondicherry (now Puducherry) in 1954. The Indian government, however, was reluctant to use armed action against them.
The reason, many historians and military observers have pointed out, was Portugal’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was worried about how countries like the United States would react if India began an armed operation against Portuguese occupation.
Goa Liberation Day: What Happened In 1961
While India sought a peaceful resolution of the Goa issue, the Portuguese carried out a provocative attack on Indian fishing boats in 1961, killing a fisherman.
This proved to be the last straw for the Indian government. PM Nehru ordered a full-scale military assault to liberate Goa. Over 30,000 personnel of the Indian armed forces, including the Indian Army and the Indian Navy, had encircled Goa by 17 December 1961 as part of Operation Vijay.
Indian forces entered Goa through the sea and land borders on 18 December and attacked Portuguese government establishments and strongholds. Heavily outnumbered, the Portuguese surrendered on 19 December.
The instrument of surrender, handing over Goan territory to India, was signed by General Manuel Antonio Vassalo e Silva, governor general of Goa. The day has since been observed as Goa Liberation Day.
Goa, Daman and Diu became a Union Territory (UT) of India. On 30 May 1987, Goa became a state. Daman and Diu continued to be a UT.
The operation to liberate Goa was the Indian Navy’s first major campaign after Independence.
Nation Observes Goa Liberation Day
Many Indian politicians and organisations took to Twitter to celebrate the proud day in Indian history, the 57th Goa Liberation Day.
Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar extended his greetings to the people.
Greetings to all Goans on Goa Liberation Day. pic.twitter.com/i0N99hbTWc
— Manohar Parrikar (@manoharparrikar) December 19, 2018
Other officials from ministries and departments like defence, science and culture also tweeted.
Greetings to the people of Goa on the occasion of #GoaLiberationDay. My tributes to all those who laid down their lives for the liberation movement.
🙏🙏@manoharparrikar @goacm @PMOIndia @BJP4Goa pic.twitter.com/27c5GrrcF9
— Dr. Subhash Bhamre (@DrSubhashMoS) December 19, 2018
Greetings to the people of Goa on #GoaLiberationDay My humble tributes to the heroes who sacrificed their lives during the liberation moment.
May the state continue to achieve new milestones of development & tourism under the able leadership of Sri @manoharparrikar
— Dr. Mahesh Sharma (@dr_maheshsharma) December 19, 2018
— Girish Chodankar (@girishgoa) December 18, 2016
Here is what the government organisations have posted.
— Prasar Bharati (@prasarbharati) December 19, 2014
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) December 19, 2018