GS Mains History Q&A: 4

Q.4 ​Portugal’s refusal to give up Goa inspite of India’s repeated requests, led to a two-fold struggle. Elaborate. 


At the time of Union of India’s independence from the British Empire in 1947, Portugal held a handful of exclaves in the Indian subcontinent – the districts of Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli – collectively known as the Estado da India.

The Government of India asked the Portuguese government to open negotiations about the future of Portuguese colonies in India. Portugal asserted that its territory on the Indian subcontinent was not a colony But a part of metropolitan Portugal and hence its transfer was non-negotiable; and that India had no rights to this territory, since the Republic of India did not exist at the time when Goa came under Portuguese rule.

When the Portuguese Government refused to respond to subsequent aide-memoires in this regard, the Indian government withdrew its diplomatic mission from Lisbon and the struggle became two fold. From within Goa and by the Indian Government outside Goa.

Two Fold Struggle:

1. Inside struggle to Portuguese rule in Goa in the 20th century was pioneered by Cunha, a French- educated Goan engineer who founded the Goa Congress Committee in Portuguese India. Messages of solidarity were received by the Goa Congress Committee from leading figures in the Indian independence movement like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, and several others. There were intermittent mass demonstrations. In addition to non-violent protests, armed groups such as the Azad Gomantak Dal (The Free Goa Party) and the United Front of Goans conducted violent attacks aimed at weakening the Portuguese rule in Goa. The Indian government supported the establishment of armed groups like the Azad Gomantak Dal, giving them full financial, logistic and armament support. The armed groups acted from bases situated in Indian territory and under cover of Indian police forces. The Indian government – through these armed groups – attempted to destroy economic targets, telegraph and telephone lines, road, water and rail transport, in order to impede economic activity and create conditions for a general uprising of the population.

2. Outside struggle was the action by India’s armed forces. The armed action, codenamed Operation Vijay by the Indian government, involved air, sea and land strikes for over 36 hours, and was a decisive victory for India, ending 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa. The brief conflict drew a mixture of worldwide praise and condemnation. In India, the action was seen as liberation of historically Indian territory, while Portugal viewed it as an aggression against national soil. Under Indian rule, Goan voters went to the polls in a referendum and voted to become an autonomous, federally administered territory. After joining India, the territory of Goa was under military rule for five months, however soon the area became a federally administered territory.

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