By Prajal Sakhardande
On December 19, 1961 Maj Gen K P Candeth – Goa’s first military Indian governor - unfurled the national flag at the old Adil Shah Palace at Panaji, 49-years-back. It was a great moment for Goans. Today, we are entering the 50th year of Goa’s Liberation. This naturally calls for a celebration. We should also remember all those who made it possible.
The Salcette Cuncollkars, the Canacona – Kholkars, Choraokars, Fr Mateus de Castro Mahale and Fr Jose Antonio Gonsalves both Diwadkar padris, Fr Pinto of Candolim, Fr Caetano Francisco Couto of Mala started the revolt against Portuguese rule way back in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. But it was left to Dr T B Cunha, a staunch patriot and socialist, to put together a comprehensive package of revolutionary socialist ideology laced with nationalistic fervour and the zealous aim to bring Goa into the mainstream national movement of India in the late 1920s. He deserves a salutation from all of us for almost fathering Goa’s freedom movement by founding the august Goa Congress Committee in 1928 and integrating it with the Indian National Congress. Socialists in Goa such as Dr Juliao Menezes of Assolna, Gandhians such as Nikubab Karapurkar, Purushottam Kakodkar, Dr Vinayak Mayekar, Dr Jose Francisco Martins, Anna Mayekar, Madhav Bir, Pramilabai Zambaulikar provided further impetus to the cause of Goa’s Freedom. Lohia’s June 18 Civil Disobedience movement of 1946 created a revolution in Goa. Salazarist regime was shaken. The National Congress Goa, a Satyagrahi organisation, was an immediate result of the June 18 movement. Here we cannot overlook the valuable contributions made by Peter Alvares, Dr Pundalik Gaitonde, Anthony D’Souza, Alfred Afonso, Mark Fernandes, Ram Hegde, Papu Shirodkar, Laxmikant Bhembre, Ticlo D’Souza, Diwakar Kakodkar, Berta and Beatriz de Menezes Braganca, Pandurang Moolgaonkar, Sudhatai Joshi and several others who struggled to give us freedom. Vishwanath Lawande, Prabhaker Sinari, Narayan Hari Naik, Prabhakar Vaidya, Tukaram Kankonkar, Mohan Ranade, Suryakant Naik, Kanhoba Naik, Balkrishna Bhonsle believed in the revolutionary movement of Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose and the Azad Gomantak Dal, Goa Liberation Army and the Quit Goa organisation were born out of the Bhagat Singh ideology. Several young men sacrificed their precious lives for Goa’s freedom. They were Bala Raya Mapari, Camilo Pereira, Suresh Kerkar, Krishna Sheth, Bapu Sahakari, Bala Desai, Manohar Pednekar, Kedar Anvekar, Balkrishna Bhosle, Amrut Chodankar, Hirve Guruji, Sheshnath Wadekar, Sardar Karnail Singh Banipal, Amirchand Gupta, B Hotelwala, Ibrahim Ramzan, Madhukar Chandhuri, Pannalal Yadav and several others. Can we forget the wives and daughters of freedom fighters like Malutai or Jyoti Deshpande who suffered in the bargain. Women freedom fighters like Sharda Savaikar, Laxmi Paiguikar, Kumudini Kavlekar, Mitra Bir, Shalini Lolienkar, Suryakanti Phaldesai, Shobha Prabhudesai, Mogabai Naik,Sindhu Deshpande, Maria Calista Araujo, Shashikala Hodarkar Almeida, Sudhatai Joshi, Shanta Hede, Vilasini Prabhu Mahale and several others who languished in jails during the freedom struggle should also be remembered on this day. Finally we should not forget V K Krishna Menon the defence minister of India who sent the Operation Vijay forces to liberate Goa and on December 19, 1961.