Goan Involvement in India’s freedom struggle

– Prof. Sushila Sawant Mendes

On the 75th anniversary of the independence of India, it is interesting to examine the Goancontribution to the national cause. Although most of these men and women contributed selflessly to the liberation of Goa, this study concentrates only on their work for the freedom of mother India. Popular support for the cause of India’s independence existed in Portuguese Goa much before 1947.

This was evident when Nehru made his first and last visit to Portuguese Goa on 9th Feb.1937, when his plane stopped for half an hour for refuelling at the then Sada aerodrome near Vasco, on his way from Bombay to Trivandrum to address a meeting at Cannanore in his capacity as the President of the Indian National Congress. Hundreds of Goansthronged to the aerodrome despite the prohibitaryorders of the Portuguese government which also prevented Nehru from addressing the people or accepting their garlands. The government officials who had volunteered to greet him were dismissed and charge-sheeted for treason.

This event was reported by the Portuguese press in the Journal da India, Diaro do Noite, O Ultramar, O Heraldo and in the vernacular press by O Bharat. The impact of this event can be gauged by the fact that on the 11th Feb.1937, the Chef de GabinetteJose Carneiro de Souza Faro, warned the authorities in Vasco to take precautionary measures in case Nehru stopped again in Goa on his way back to Bombay. Instructions were issued forbidding access to the road leading to the aerodrome and the gathering of people near it. 

In 1928, T.B.Cunha founded the Goa Congress Committee and had it affiliated to the Indian National Congress at its Calcutta session. Luis de Menezes Bragança accompanied T.B.Cunha to the Calcutta session, where they both heard Mahatma Gandhi speak and interacted with nationalists like the editor of Amrita Bazar Patrika, Motilal Gosh. It was here that there was a diametrical change in Menezes Bragança’s ‘vision of Goa’s future’. He was now comvinced that Goa should join the national struggle of freedom.  

Menezes Bragança imported the national discourse from British India across Goa’s borders and into the homes of citizens reading his newspapers. Goansread about the great nationalist leaders in India’s on-going freedom struggle against the British leaders like Motilal Nehru, G.K. Gokhale, Lala Lajpat Raiand Jawaharlal Nehru. He thus updated Goans withdevelopments in British India,   nursing the flame of political consciousness among his readers. If the people in British India had the courage and perseverance to fight their colonial masters, then Goans could also do so. He wrote inspirational stories of leaders who persevered in their quest for freedom despite persecution.

In the issues of Pracasha, the front full pages were dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, Dr.B.S.Munje(member of the Hindu Mahasabha delegation to Goa in 1928) or some other national figures with their respective photographs. Menezes Bragança was proud of his Goan and Indian roots. He often wrote on subjects like the Mahabharat, Kautilya, Patanjaliand the Arthashastra to illustrate his case that long before the Europeans came to India, there was already a well-developed civilization, which was steeped in spirituality, philosophy and jurisprudence much ahead of its times. These writings inculcated a sense of self-respect and respect for India’s rich heritage. 

T.B.Cunha was a member of the Anti-Imperialist League and collaborated with other Indian patriots in the Pro-Indian committee of the Information Bureau founded by Romain Rolland in Paris. Cunha also collaborated with Henri Barbusse who had openly sympathised with the cause of India’s freedom in Europe. He wrote on French newspapers like Clarte, L’Humanite and L’Europe Nouvelle,wherein he exposed the Jallainwalla Baugh massacre which was blacked out by the foreign press. He serialized a biographical study of Mahatma Gandhi in French before Romain Rolland did his own.  

In 1929, when hundreds of Kunbi’s (Goan Christian Adivasi’s) labourers were enticed by the British tea planters of Assam and made to work like slaves, it was largely because of the intervention of Nehru along with the Goa Congress Committee that succeeded in getting the unfortunate victims of ‘camouflaged slavery’ repatriated to their homes. 

Cunha organised the Goa Action Committee in Bombay of all Goan political parties. He supported the Goa Vimochan Sahayak Samhiti (GVSS) whose members came from every nook and corner of the country to offer satyagraha in the years 1954 and 1955 for the Goan cause.The propagation of the Swadeshi movement and temperance formed the most important feature of his activities as a writer and activist.

Peter Alvares gave up his well-paid job in the Port Trust of India in order to participate in the Indian freedom movement and actively participated in the Quit India movement of 1942 and was in jail for over two years. He was the founder of the GIP Railway Panchayat and a number of other unions of the Indian Railways. He was the President of the All India Railway Federation and for many years was in the fore front of the railway trade union movement in India. He wrote on economic issues for the Janata, the Socialist weekly of Bombay. As President of the National Congress, Goa he was instrumental in founding the GVSS which coordinated satyagrahis from different parts of the country to come to Goa. He worked in the last years of his life in Bihar for Jayaprakash Narayan’s JanataMovement.

Louis Mendes was member of the Indian National Congress and later member of the NCG. He participated in the Quit India Movement. He was forced to be in exile in Bombay as an arrest warrant was issued against him in Goa. He was the founder member and General Secretary of the Maritime Labour Union of India and the editor of its magazine. He wrote articles of how the Indian sea farers were paid lesser salaries than their European counterparts in the Goan Tribune. As General Secretary of the Goan Clubs Federation he was a member of the Goan Political delegation that met Nehru in Delhi.

Rev. Fr. H. O. Mascarenhas, was a staunch nationalist and a sympathizer of the freedom movement since he was ordained a priest in 1934.He was fluent in Sanskrit and well versed in the Bhagvad Gita and the Upanishads. He founded many branches of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal in the colleges of Bombay.

Vishwanath Lawande participated in the Quit India movement as a part of the Kolhapur Students Union. He organised the Rashtriiya Seva Dal branch in Kolhapur and thereafter was immersed in the Goa’s freedom struggle as an active member of the Azad Gomantak Dal. Shamrao Lad was also a participant of the Quit India movement. Yeshwant Bugdereceived lathi-charges from the British police for offering satyagraha in Ratnagiri during Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha Movement.

Diwakar Kakodkar joined the Communist Party of India in 1935 and participated in the Indian freedom struggle while in Bombay. He was an active member of the Bombay Students movement. Chandrakant Kakodkar was also a member of the CPI. He was arrested for his involvement in the QuitIndia movement and was lodged in the Nasik jail for 2 years. As Secretary of the Goan Youth League he and Joachim Dias met Gandhi in 1946 in Pune. Gandhi reassured them that Goans should not submit to the Portuguese and that the entire nation supported the Goan cause. Dias participated in the Indian freedom struggle during his student days and was arrested several times in the Castlerock area and in Belgaum.

Sindu Deshpande belonged to a family of nationalists and was drawn into the Quit India movement. She was later a member of the PrajaSocialist Party and organised its women’s branch in Maharashtra. Dattatraya Deshpande participated in the Quit India movement from 1942-45.He joined the Forward Bloc started by Subhash Chandra Bose and worked for it in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Anna Deshpande was in the struggle against the Nizam of Hyderabad and in the Quit India movement.

Most of the Goans were drawn into the Indian national movement because they were forced to livein exile in British India and could not remain mute spectators. On the other side hundreds of volunteers of the GVSS came to offer satyagraha at the cost of their lives. Although the colonial masters were different, the people were linked by an umbilical cord which made the struggle a common cause.  

Prof.Sushila Sawant Mendes

Author & Senior Faculty in History

Leave a Reply

You may also like

Medieval History Miscellaneous

The legacy of loyalty by the great Mughals 

Courtesy: https://twitter.com/mumukshusavitri/status/1532261065207074817?s=24&t=rsnv1Gu82ULo9uO982zZig

1 The Mughal emperor Humayun blinded his own brother Kamran & murdered his brothers Askari and Hindal.

2 Akbar the “great” killed his own foster brother Adham Khan by throwing him down from the palace walls at Agra, in 1562. Akbar’s murder of Adham Khan was illustrated in the Akbarnama by the Mughal court artists Miskin and Shankar.


3 Jahangir cruelly blinded his own son Khusrau as his father Akbar wanted his grandson as heir, because Jahangir was an alcoholic & drug addict. Khusrau was captured, put on an elephant & paraded down Chandni Chowk, while his kinsmen were held at knife-point on raised platforms.


4 As the elephant approached each platform, each supporter was impaled on a stake (through his bowels), while Khusrau was forced to watch & listen to the screams. This was repeated numerous times, then Khusrau was blinded by his father Jahangir in…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

India-China Conflict: India’s Victory of 1967 and the 2020 Clash #Sangam Talk By Probal DasGupta


The Indian army veteran and author of Watershed 1967: India’s forgotten victory over China, Probal DasGupta talks of the Indo-China relations, particularly the lesser known incidents of 1967. The present standoff in Ladakh has raised questions of war and has brought up the historic narrative between the two countries. today. For fifty years, the event that dominated our memories was the 1962 India-China war, which India lost. However, the present crisis has focused on India’s victory over China in 1967. Probal’s book Watershed 1967 has played a significant role in reshaping the India-China narrative. In this talk he discusses China’s motives and India’s options today, and how 1967 is relevant in the current India-China skirmishes.

About the Speaker:

Probal DasGupta is an Indian army veteran and author…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

Weapons from Punjab and Rajasthan seized in Maharashtra


While the Hanuman Chalisa and Azaan issue is simmering in Maharashtra huge batches of Swords and other weapons transported from states like Rajasthan and Punjab are being seized in Maharashtra. In last few days three such cases have been registered by Maharashtra police. Isn’t it a clear message that violence is knocking on the door? The rioters being celebrated and awarded in Karnataka and the long list of benefiters from Karauli riots convey the same! Wake up Hindus!

Source: https://www.naidunia.com

Maharashtra के धुले में मिला हथियारों का जखीरा, तलवार और खंजर समेत 90 हथियार जब्त, 4 आरोपी गिरफ्तार। अजान को लेकर राज ठाकरे की होने वाली सभा के लिए, राजस्थान से भेजी जा रही थीं तलवारें।

महाराष्ट्र के धुले जिले से भारी मात्रा में हथियार…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

One more territory lost to the changing Demography! The Uttarakhand!


Courtesy: https://twitter.com/anshul_aliganj/status/1517047053821825025?s=21&t=m0uR2PDEkJsDWLonYOQqAg

In Uttarakhand the Tourism Industry has been taken over by Samuday Vishesh. After the change in demography this was bound to happen.

Gadhwal was lost already and and now kumaon getting lost. Be it Nainital, Bhimtal, Ramnagar, Bageshwar,Jageshwar,Ranikhet and Kisano every where you will find them.
Locals have leased their hotels and restaurants to them.

Even when they are of not so well off background still they are able to do highest bidding and are able to get the hotels on lease.
Samuday Vishesh People from far off places have come and taken over Uttarakhand Tourism.

They have removed the local waiters , cooks and…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

The Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad on the glorious Bhadra Kali Mandir



The Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad was originally A Bhadra Kali temple. It was converted into a mosque by Ahmed Shah I. The intricate flowers, coiled serpents representing Kundalini and bells, the remnants of the glorious temple that it may have been. Such carvings are banned in Islam. This goes on to support the history of the temple. Goddess Bhadrakali was believed to be the Nagar Devi of Ahmedabad.

One of Ahmedabad’s ancient names was Bhadra which was after Devi Bhadrakali. Ahmedabad was named after Ahmad Shah I of the Muzaffarid dynasty who forcibly captured “Karnavati” in 1411.

Bhadrakali temple is believed to be one of the oldest temple of Ahmedabad and located inside Bhadra Fort in center of city.The exact date of construction is not known but as per the evidence this holy shrine…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

Facts about Mahmud Ghazni


Courtesy: Eztainutlacatl

How many of you know that Mahmud’s father was a Kyrghyz Buddhist caught in childhood and converted forcibly? How many know that Mahmud is called Zabuli because he was born out of a forced union between that slave Sabuktegin and a Zabuli Princess?

And how many of you know that Multan sided Mahmud against the Shahis in the name of religion but Mahmud decided Multan was not Muslim enough and attacked it? And how many of you know that of the 17 raids of Mahmud, 14 are against his neighbour, the Shahis?

And how many of you know that Mahmud is not exactly great – he waged an annual jihad against India but in 31 his year rule, only 17 raids are known – what happened to the balance 13? And how…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

Kastur Ba: the secret shadow


On her 153rd Birth anniversary

Courtesy: Sheshapatangi1


“I simply cannot bear to look at Ba’s face, the expression is often like that of a meek cow and that in her own dump manner she is saying something” –

To keep the brand, “Mahatma” popular, they never told the miserable story of his wife.
On her 153rd birth anniversary, let us revisit a tragedy called #KasturbaGandhi.

Born on April 11, 1869 at Porbander, Kasturba was elder to Gandhi by 6 months, she married Mohandas with whom she played since her childhood.

Gandhi’s rejection of Kasturba came to the extent…

Read More
Ancient History History Maritime History Medieval History Miscellaneous

My people uprooted


Courtesy: Shri Tathagata Roy

8 April 1950 a fateful pact signed betn Jawaharlal Nehru & Liaquat Ali Khan,PM of Pakistan. After 2 months of Govt-engineered pogrom,slaughter, rape of Hindus in East Pakistan. Estimated 50,000 Hindus killed. An instance of incredible political stupidity on Nehru’s part.

Upon Liaquat’s glib assurance that Hindu refugees would be taken back and restored,the gullible Nehru decided that no rehabilitation of Hindus was necessary in India. Result: no refugee went back and were forced to live under inhuman conditions in Indian camps.

The Pakis were so insincere about the pact that their Govt issued secret instructions not to restore any Hindu to his property. Even after the pact all Hindu passengers in down Assam Mail were pulled down and killed just outside Santahar station.

The two Bengali ministers…

Read More
%d bloggers like this: