Nation observes 'Vijay Divas', remembers liberation of Goa from Portuguese rule

| Updated: Dec 20, 2016 03:17 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec. 19 (ANI): Today the country is observing the first 'Vijay Divas' or 'Victory Day' to remember the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese rule. On this day, Indian forces Commander Major General K. P. Candeth arrived at Panjim and hoisted the Indian national flag, signifying the takeover by India of Goa. On December19, the Indian forces had successfully reached Betim, the previous day arrived at Panjim at around 7:30 A.M. Those soldiers, who tried to move to the capital via Banastarim, swam across the river and arrived at Panjim about 8:30 A.M. At 10 A.M., the Indian national flag was hoisted by Major General K.P. Candeth. Goa was taken over by the Portuguese from the Maratha rule in 1641 and and began the minor Bicholim conflict, which ended in peace treaty between the Portuguese and Maratha Empire. In the 19th century, when there was a movement for independence in India, the effects of which were felt on a smaller scale in Goa as well. Goans participated in satyagraha in the late 1940s. After India got independence, the Portuguese refused to give up their hold over Goa. Finally on Dec 19, 1964, India conquered Goa from the Portuguese and Goa became a part of India. The Indian Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru attempted an economic blockade of Goa in 1955 so as to pressurise the Portuguese Government to leave Goan soil. But, the blockade made little or no impact on the Portuguese Goan economy, because the assistance provided by Pakistan helped neutralise the ill-effects of the blockade. According to reports, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's non-violent policy toward the Goa liberation movement came under severe attack from Afro-Asian countries at the Belgrade Conference in early September 1961. The African leader opined that the Indian policy of inaction in Goa enabled Portugal to take advantage in Africa. At the close of the seminar, which continued its sessions in Mumbai, they emerged a new Afro-Indian solidarity. Freedom of Goa was linked to liberation of other countries under the Portuguese. The Government of India under Nehru adopted a plan called 'Operation Vijay' to free the Portuguese colonies in India. General J.N. Chaudhari was in charge of carrying out this plan. By December 11, 1961, Indian forces were placed at Belgaum, Vapi and Una for attacks on Goa, Daman and Diu, respectively. Operations against Goa were directed by Major General K.P. Candeth. The plan was to advance into Goa from the north and east. The attack from the south was meant to divert attention. On December 12, 1961, the two main land routes connecting Goa and India were sealed for the civilian population. This was a move to facilitate the movement of the army. December 18, 1961, was the day determined for the attack. All the three sections of the Indian armed forces participated in Operation Vijay. The Indian Air Force planes at about 6:30 A.M bombarded the radio station at Bambolim and the airport at Dabolim. The attack was led by Air Vice Marshall A Pinto do Rosario of the Indian Air force in Hawker Hunter aircraft. The Indian Navy Ships were positioned outside the Marmagao port. The only Portuguese warship Afonso de Albuquerque was beached by the Portuguese Navy after attack from the Indian Navy comprising of the frigates INS Betwa and INS Beas. Both INS Beas and INS Betwa were part of an advance force which included the Indian Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant carrying Sea Hawk aircraft. The Indian Army attacked Goa from the north the moves began on two fronts. At 5 A.M. The Indian troops entered Goa via Matna. They moved forward to Pilligao and then to Banastarim. On reaching Banastarim at around 6 P.M. in the evening, they discovered that the bridge had been blown up. The troops, therefore, halted there for the night. Another platoon entered Goa via Dodamarg around 6:30 A.M. and advanced towards Assnora, Tivim, Mapusa and eventually Betim. The onward move of these soldiers was difficult as the Portuguese tried stopping them by blasting bridges and culverts on the way. The local population helped with information on places which were mined and unsafe. The troops reached Betim, which is 600 yards from Panjim, the capital of Goa, around 5 P.M. On hearing the firing at Betim, the Portuguese flag in front of the secretariat was lowered and the white flag was hoisted to indicate surrender at 6 P.M. on 18th December 1961. On the northeastern side a platoon which entered Goa around 4 A.M. proceeded to Sankhelim, Usgao and then Ponda. The situation in Ponda was one of chaos and confusion. The Portuguese had left it after setting fire to their equipment and some buildings. Hooligans were seen looting shops and whatever they could lay their hands on. After occupying Ponda, the force moved towards Panaji only to be halted in their advance by the blasted bridge of Banastarim. On the eastern side, two platoons entered Goa via Anmod. One of them moved to Mollem with an aim of reaching Ponda via Dharbandora and Khandepar. The other proceeded to Mollem and Khandepar via Surla. The attack from the south had the objective of drawing the Portuguese attacks from the other fronts. The attack began at 6 A.M. and the entry point into Goa was at Poinguinim. At 1:00 P.M., the Indian soldiers arrived at Ardifond. A Portuguese post opened fire on the Indian troops, who had numerical superiority. The Indians took over the post during the exchange along with the arms and ammunition stocked there. On the eastern front after occupying Ponda, the Indian troops moved towards Margao via Borim. The people of Margao thronged the streets to accord them a warm welcome. The atmosphere around was rent with cries of joy and national slogans. The forces, then, advanced towards Vasco da Gama and the port of Marmagao via Verna and Dabolim. They captured Marmagao at about 4:30 P.M. The Indian soldiers who had occupied Canacona on the previous day reached Margao the next morning. They restored law and order in the town and took over and sealed all the public buildings, banks, treasury, police station post office etc. On December 19, the Indian forces, which had successfully reached Betim the previous day, arrived at Panjim at around 7:30 A.M. Those soldiers who tried to move to the capital via Banastarim swam across the river and arrived at Panjim about 8:30 A.M. At 10 A.M. the Indian national flag was hoisted by major general K.P. Candeth. All operations in Goa came to a halt at 6 P.M. on December 19, 1961. Arrangements were made for receiving the formal surrender at the hands of the Portuguese governor General salo e Silva. The document of surrender was signed at 7:30 P.M. on a street at Vasco da Gama under the headlights of the car of the Portuguese Governor General and submitted to Brig. K.S.Dhillon. Major General K.P.Candeth was appointed the military Governor of Goa. Within 40 hours of the start of the operation, the Indian army had successfully carried out operation Vijay and centuries of foreign domination in Goa came to an end. The media was taken along by the Indian authorities to cover the operations. The representative of the Visnews, Mr. Prem Prakash, now the Chairman of the Asian News International, covered the war for the foreign visual media. (ANI)