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Did Nehru really delay Liberation of Goa?


On 15th January, Goa’s BJP Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant, made a remark that India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for delaying Goa’s liberation by 14 years. Is it true?

Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule by Indian army on 19th December 1961, 14 years after India’s independence on 15th August 1947 from the British rule. It was a military action and thus called Liberation.

Dr Sawant took an opportunity of Army Day function in Panaji and made the following statement:

“Truth be told, India got Independence in 1947, the people of the entire country got the fruits of Independence. But unfortunately for Goans, we had to wait 14 years to taste freedom. The Prime Minister at the time Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for this. And because of him we got liberation 14 years later. If he had the political will, if he was really concerned about Goans then, and really felt that Goa should have been liberated from the Portuguese then we would have got liberation 14 years earlier. Never mind in 1947. He should have thought about us at least in 1950.”

But Dr Sawant is not the first BJP leader who made this statement. On 18th August last year, during his Goa visit for party work, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP national vice president Dr Shivraj Singh had also made a similar statement.

“Former Prime Minister late Jawaharlal Nehru's "wrong" policies not only led to prolonging of the vexed Jammu and Kashmir problem, but also delayed the liberation of Goa from Portuguese yoke.”

And much before this, on 10th February 1998, Prakash Jawadekar, then BJP member of Maharashtra Legislative Council and now India’s I&B Minister, had demanded apology from Congress for Goa’s delayed liberation.

During the Lok Sabha election campaign, Jawadekar had said:

"If Vallabhbhai Patel's advice had been heeded by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, then Goa would have been part of the Indian Union by 1948 itself. Therefore, the Congress must apologise for the 14 extra years of Portuguese imperialism that the Goans had to bear.”


Goa’s Marathi edition of Lokmat gathered and published opinions of learned people on this. Few among those were as follows:

Damodar Mauzo, Writer

CM’ immature statement needs to be condemned by all. The Sangh Parivar has always been degrading Nehru.

Gurunath Kelekar, Freedom Fighter

It’s half-truth that Goa liberation got delayed due to Nehru. Nehru did not favour armed action to liberate Goa. He was trying to persuade USA. But when USA sided with Portugal, he sent army to liberate Goa.

Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar, Social Activist

Goa’s liberation got delayed due to international situation. Portugal had approached NATO on Goa issue. Nehru had to struggle to convince the United Nations Organisation that India is not a terrorist state as portrayed by USA. Nehru cannot be held responsible for delayed liberation of Goa.


But the most elaborate explanation given in this regard is a book published by Govt of Goa, Directorate of Art & Culture, written by Dr Nishtha Desai, who has attained doctorate by researching on Dr T B Cunha vis-à-vis Goa’s liberation. The name of the book is “Liberation v/s Armed Aggression: The Media Response to Goa’s Liberation”, published in 2011.

Book published by Govt of Goa in 2011

Book published by Govt of Goa in 2011 has tried to put the facts & official quotes mentioned in the book, in brief, but in a chronological manner, from 1946 to 1961:



* Dr Ram Manohar Lohia initiates Civil Disobedience Movement on 18th June 1946 in Madgao, which lit the fire of liberation movement in Goa.

* Congress Working Committee notes the contrast between the attitude of France and Portugal. France agrees to hand over its colonies in India. Portugal says Goa is Portugal.

People gathered for Lohia's speech on 18 June 1946 in Madgao

People gathered for Lohia's speech on 18 June 1946 in Madgao



* India gains independence on 15th August 1947. Begins negotiations with France to integrate with India the French pockets of Chandernagore, Mahe, Yanam, Karaikal and Pondicherry.



* Congress passes resolution on 18th December 1948 to integrate surviving pockets of colonial rule with India.



* On 4th February 1949, PM Nehru tells the Parliament that the problem of foreign possession would be settled according to the wishes of the people through referendums.

* In a lecture delivered in Lisbon on ‘The Rights of Portuguese India’, Alberto Xavier dismisses Nehru’s idea of a plebiscite. “Our law does not permit it and the Portuguese Govt, based on law, is not disposed to consent to it.



* Portugal amends its Constitution in June 1951, declaring Goa’s status as a ‘province’ of Portugal and not a colony.

Portuguese PM Salazar & India PM Nehru

Portuguese PM Salazar & India PM Nehru



* General Assembly of UN classifies ‘overseas provinces’ as non-self-governing territories (including of Portugal) and only a plebiscite approved by UN would decide its recognition.

* Portuguese delegate to UN maintains that Portugal has no colonies and the constitutional status of the overseas provinces is absolutely equal to the status of European provinces.



* Referendum held among municipal councillors in French colonies of Pondicherry & Karaikal goes in favour of India.

* Portugal approaches a military alliance of countries, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as the treaty guaranteed the ‘territorial integrity’ of its signatories.

* On 14th May 1954, in Rajya Sabha, PM Nehru warns that neither NATO nor the Anglo-Portuguese alliance concerns any foreign settlement in the country.

* Dadra liberated on 21st July by United Front of Goans, Nagar Haveli liberated by Goan People’s’ Party & Azad Gomantak Dal on 2nd No resistance locally but Portugal through NATO seeks support of USA.

* On 15th August 1954, 47 Goan Satyagrahis enter Goa from Banda, Terekhol and Karwar. 15 Satyagrahis capture Terekhol fort for one day, Portuguese recapture it next day while killing one and wounding 12 Satyagrahis. All Satyagrahis arrested.

Satyagrahis enter Goa from Karwar

Satyagrahis enter Goa from Karwar



* All French pockets integrated with India.

* Portuguese minister Antonio Ferro says Goa is not Indian, but Portuguese, in its stones, in the hearts of inhabitants….. just as such as ours as Lisbon. That is why we shall not renounce Goa.

* On 22nd July 1955, Portuguese council of ministers rules out possibility of transferring Goa through peaceful means.

* On 15th August 1955, over 3000 Indian Satyagrahis cross borders of Goa (1700), Daman (1249) & Diu (81). Portuguese opens fire, kill 49 including 22 in Goa, 28 among them were Goans. 630 arrested, including 454 Goans.

* On 18th August, Govt of India led by Nehru withdraws Indian Consulate in Goa and tells Portugal to shut down its consulates in Mumbai, Madras and Calcutta. Also imposes economic blockade to Goa.

* Premier of Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev (Russia) visits India, supports Indian sovereignty over the disputed territory of the Kashmirregion and over Portuguese coastal enclaves such as Goa.

* Condemning Soviet Union statement, USA Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Portugal Foreign Minister Paulo Cunha issue a joint statement in Washington on 2nd December that Russia is attempting to foment hatred between East & West and Goa is a province of Portugal.

* Portugal admitted to UN as a member on 19 December, same day files a case before International Court at The Hague seeking passage between its territories of Goa, Daman & Dadra Nagar Haveli of transit for persons and goods including armed forces.

India PM Nehru addressing United Nations General Assembly

India PM Nehru addressing United Nations General Assembly



* UN International Court decides case of Portugal in April, granting passage for private persons but not for Portugal armed forces between Goa, Daman and Dadra Nagar Haveli.

* UN passes a resolution, tabled by 43 Afro-Asian nations, on 14th December 1960 titled ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independencies to Colonial Countries and Peoples’. Portugal pressured further, but remains adamant.



* On 16th August 1961, Nehru tells Rajya Sabha & Lok Sabha that use of Indian Army in Goa cannot be ruled out.

* In October 1961, a seminar hosted in Delhi by Indian Council for Africa urges India to take decisive action to liberate Goa.

* On 13th November 1961, UN General Assembly’ Trusteeship Committee endorses a 33-nation move to condemn Portugal’s refusal to transmit information about its overseas territories, requests member states to deny Portugal any help to subjugate the people of non-autonomous territories.

* On 15th December 1961, UN General Assembly approves this resolution and calls on Portugal to submit such reports without any delay. 17 nations abstain including USA and Britain.

* On 16th December, the USA intervenes & contacts Portuguese ambassador in Washington with a request to negotiate with India.

* On the midnight of 17th December 1961, PM Nehru sends Indian Army to liberate Goa.

* On 18 December 1961, Portugal complains to the UNO of aggression in their overseas province by India and demands an immediate meeting of the Security Council. Afro-Asian countries move a resolution, calling upon Portugal “to terminate hostile action and co-operate with India in the liquidation of her colonial possessions in India.” It was defeated.

   Then  four western blocs including the United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey move a resolution, “calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and calling upon India to withdraw her forces immediately to the positions prevailing before Dec. 17, 1961.” Chile, Ecuador and China also support it, making it seven. Only four nations; the Soviet Union, Ceylon, Liberia and the United Arab Republic oppose it. However, it gets defeated by the Soviet veto – the 99th cast by the USSR in the Security Council. (If not, India had to withdraw the army and hand it over back to Portugal.)

* Portugal surrenders, Goa liberated on 19th December 1961.

Operation Vijay: Indian Army entering Goa

Operation Vijay: Indian Army entering Goa



* On 19th February 1962, Portugal decrees that ‘Portuguese India’ would continue to have representation in the Portuguese National Assembly, refuses to recognise Indian rule over Goa, Daman & Diu.

* On 16th August 1962, United Nations issues official notification that Goa, Daman & Diu had become part of India.

On page 44 of the book,  author Dr Nishtha Desai observes:

India’s position was delicate since she, on the one hand,  was publicly committed to world peace and on the other had to deal with an unyielding colonial power. India had won for herself the unique distinction of having won her independence through a non-violent struggle in which thousands of people throughout the country actively participated. World-wide, India was acknowledged as the apostle of peace; ‘ahimsa’ and ‘panchasheela’ being contributions to the political lexicon of the time.

The following cartoon, published at that time in one of the publications abroad, says it all: is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

Total Comments :2

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The Portugal left GOA on 19th DECEMBER 1961, I WAS BORN 24TTH JANUARY 1962 MIDNIGHT


Very informative and factual.....Gives a lie to the statements of BJP leaders

Walter , Mumbai



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