Monday 17 June 2024

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Goa Govt forgets him, history brigade remembers... the young martyr!


Half-bust of Karnail made by Sachin Magde

Sardarji is a matter of fun for us. But life was not fun for a 25-year old Karnail Singh Benipal, who braved the Portuguese gunmen and became a Shahid (martyr) to liberate Goa.

On 15th August 1955 at Patradevi.

The state government of Punjab observes his martyrdom for Goa in his Isru village of Punjab on every Independence Day.  

But hardly anything is done by Government of Goa to pose this brave young man as a model for Goa’s youth, except naming a government primary school after him – Shahid Karnail Singh Benipal Sarkari Prathamik Shalla, at Patradevi.

Otherwise, he is just yet another martyr and a freedom fighter in the list and a one-line mention in the history text book of Std X.

This has been our gratitude to the young brave ‘Indian’ for the last 60 years…

But the young brigade of history researchers of Goa is not quite. Fed up of making petitions to all the governments, they decided to come forward on their own.

Prajal Sakhardande, a history researcher and a leading activist of Heritage Action Group, took the initiative.  

Sachin Madge, another sculptor from Pune settled in Colvale village of Bardez taluka, responded to his call.

Other young history students joined hands with them.

And with their efforts, a half-bust of Karnail Singh would be installed tomorrow, on 15th August 2015 – after 60 years – in front of the primary school building.

Sharda Savoikar, yet another brave freedom fighter of Goa who bravely faced all kind of torture in the jail, would unveil the bust.

What is so inspiring about Karnail Singh?

Read Prajal Sakhardande on Karnail Singh

Just married in May 1955, young 25-year old Karnail heard the call given by Goa Vimochan Samiti.

With Shahid Bhagat Singh as his model and a student leader belonging to the Communist Party, he decided to participate in the Satyagraha on 15th August, to enter Goa unarmed, along with many others. Perhaps he was the youngest among them.

As the Satyagrahis were entering Goa from northern side at Patradevi, Portuguese soldiers fired at them. The bullet hit Sahodaradevi, who was leading the non-violent march, on her shoulder and she fell down with a tricolour in her hand.

Karnail was right behind. Furious over the cowardly act the Portuguese soldiers, he ran in front, tore his shirt and challenged the Portuguese soldiers to shoot him.

And yes, they shot him, right in his chest. He fell down, shouting ‘Jai Hind’!

The incident was widely reported in the national and international media and was even condemned. In fact two media persons of international media on the spot – Arthur Bonner and John Hlavacek – rushed in front and tried to stop the gunmen.

It was like a mini Jallianwalah Bagh. And yet another Punjabi had shed his blood on the border, this time for Goa’s liberation.

“We have taken up Mission Karnail”, said Prajal, a history lecturer at Dempo College, Miramar, Panaji.

He plans to observe his birth anniversary – 9th September – every year in Dempo College.

Kapil Korgaonkar, his colleague has a specific demand: “We want entire chapter on Karnail Singh in our text books.”

For sculptor Sachin Magde, one bust is not the end of the story, though, he says: “I consider it a good fortune that I could make the bust of this great man.”

Perhaps that’s the reason, this sensitive and sensible artist has not charged a single rupee for the bust.

Nusha Bandodkar, part of the History Forum, is eagerly waiting for 19th December this year because it would be graced by Karnail’s 77-year wife Chandrajit Kaur, his 80-year old brother Mahendra Singh Benipal and wife’s brother, in Goa.

The young brigade of Goa has an open invitation to all the readers. It’s Saturday, 15th August 2015, at Patradevi primary school, at 10 am! is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Total Comments :2

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Its Dempe College-Miramar (Now Bambolim) and not Dempo College

Seby Fernandes , Mysore

Bhai, Your news updates are wonderful, but please do one correction in the name of the College where Prof. Prajal sir teaches History subject.

Its Dempe College, Miramar (Now Bambolim)

Seby Fernandes , Mysore