US Imperialism

Peak Oil


WSF In India







Gujarat Pogrom






Join Mailing List

Submit Articles

Contact Us


A Liberation From Lies

By Prabhakar Sinari

Indian Express
06 November, 2003

A systematic campaign is underway to distort and rewrite the history of Goa’s freedom movement. The RSS is trying to take belated credit for a struggle in which its role was, at best, marginal. This is being done with the patronage of the BJP-led governments in Delhi and Panaji. This ‘‘spin’’ cannot go unchallenged.

The campaign began in 2001, with the Centre flouting rules to bring 115 RSS men under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension scheme. They were said to have liberated Dadra and Nagar Haveli, when historical records show underground groups from Goa and locals did so.

Yet Home Minister L.K. Advani and Petroleum Minister Ram Naik presided over a function at Pune on December 10, 2001, where it was projected that the 115 RSS beneficiaries were the only liberators of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The fighters from Goa and Daman who captured larger Portuguese forces were ignored.

The honouring of these RSS workers contradicted the Indian government’s affidavit in the International Court of Justice, the Hague, that no ‘‘Indian nationals’’ were involved in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli operation and that it was entirely an internal uprising against the Portuguese.

As a direct participant, I can say that Goans and Damanians, under the banner of the United Front of Goans, Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD) and Goan People’s Party accomplished the mission.

Dadra was liberated on the night of July 21, 1954, by a group led by Francis Mascarenhas, Woman Sardesai and 10 others (none from the RSS). Thereafter, the process of liberating Nagar Haveli began, under the aegis of the Azad Gomantak Dal. I was part of that team.

We attacked the police post and the taluka headquarter on the night of July 28. We had 10 RSS volunteers with us. The AGD had worked out a clear understanding that the volunteers were participating as individuals and not RSS members.

We captured Naroli, Pimparia Post and then Silvassa. We learnt the administrator, Captain Virgilio Fidalgo and Lieutenant Falcao and Chefe Pegao had moved to Khandvel, on the southern side of Nagar Haveli, with a force of 150. While retreating to Khandvel, they were forced to halt at Rakholi for the night of August 2, since the Damanganga river was in spate. When the rains did not subside the next morning, they crossed all the same.

The Portuguese set up rearguard defences on the other bank, while we were faced with the flooded Damanganga. I formed a unit of eight Goan volunteers and two from Daman. Early on August 10, with the help of a local ferryman, we crossed the furiously swirling waters, two at a time.

By noon we arrived at the outskirts of Khandvel. Though moving under cover of bushes, we knew we were being monitored. So we were not surprised when a hail of bullets greeted us. One group under the leadership of Prabhakar Vaidya charged the enemy positions on the left flank. I headed for the police post.

When I saw Sub-Chefe Pereira firing at us, I took cover. At the appropriate moment, I pounced on him and snatched his stengun. He begged for his life. I stuck the stengun in Pereira’s back and got him to order his soldiers to lay down their arms. It took us two hours to disarm around 80 members of the Portuguese force. Most of them were drunk, demoralised and mortally afraid.

Sub-Chefe Pereira was holding up the rear, while his seniors led by Captain Fidalgo, Lieutenant Falcao and Chefe Pegao were on the run, hoping to sneak into Daman. When they learnt of Khandvel’s fall, they preferred to surrender to Indian authorities. Thus Dadra and Nagar Haveli were liberated.

There was not a single RSS volunteer with the United Front of Goans or the Goan People’s Party. It’s only the AGD that used their services. The number of such RSS volunteers would have been 40-45. Of these about 15, mostly from Talegaon arrived at Silvassa on August 3, 1954, after its liberation. They dragged out the priest of Silvassa church, disgracing the movement.

Morarji Desai, then chief minister of Bombay state, sent John Lobo, then deputy commissioner of police, to Silvassa. On his report, most of the RSS volunteers were removed from Nagar Haveli. Now it’s Goa’s turn to face the RSS spin. It is learnt the Centre has decided to sanction the Samman Pension 4,000 persons from Maharashtra and another 6,000 from other states. The logic: they had offered satyagraha in Goa, 1954-55.

The reality is these 10,000 people were never actually able to participate in satyagraha in Goa. A few who could, like N.G. Gore and Shirubhau Limaye, are already recipients of pensions. The bulk of the satyagrahis could not even reach Goa’s borders because of a Bombay government ban.

The Centre can at best give these people a special certificate, not push them into the lifelong Swatantrata Samman Scheme. That would bring a bad name to the entire liberation movement. Some 1,500 local Goan freedom fighters are being equated with 10,000 or even more from outside.

(The author took part in the liberation of Goa. He later joined the IPS)