Portuguese Possessions in India - July 1954

There was no British India Post Offices in Portuguese India except at Damaun. The records of National Archives of India give informations on the withdrawal of Indian post office from Damaun on or from 1st April 1884. It further states that this post office was either opened in last century or in the beginning of this century, vide Letter No.79 dated 1883 from Governor of Portuguese India to Governor of Bombay.

There was a regular postal service in between British India and Portuguese India since 1823, vide an agreement between the two countries. But mail from both countries to each other are found as early as 1807.

The British India stamps were introduced from 1st October 1854 and the Portuguese India stamps were issued on 12th August 1871. The British Indian stamps were sold by Portuguese Post Office at Goa in between 1854 and 1877. Before 1871, postage was paid in cash in Portuguese India togather with British stamps, on mail for British India. These stamps were often cancelled by delivery Post Office. After 1871, Portuguese Indian stamps were used in combination with British Indian stamps till 1877. These British Indian stamps are found used from Portuguese Post Offices.
A combination cover from Panjim (GOA) to Karachi dated 15th March 1877, via Sawantwari and Bombay with Q. V. ½ anna British India stamp and 10 reis stamp of Portuguese India.

Courtsey: Mr. Dhananjay Desai.

In 1877, both countries agreed to accept each others stamps for the entire journey. Thus, the use of British India stamps in Portuguese India came to an end. And since then, Portuguese India, depended on their own postal system and had their own postage stamps and postal stationeries.

Goa was the main bastion of the Portuguese power in Portuguese India. Therefore, Freedom Struggle was concentrated at Goa and it was expected that once Goa is liberated, other enclaves like Daman, Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli would be liberated automatically.

In the beginning of 1946, when it was clear that the Britishers are leaving India, the desire to liberate Goa became stronger. At this juncture, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia visited Goa in 1946 to participate in their Freedom Struggle. He was arrested and put in Central Jail at Fort Agwad, on 18th June 1946. This ignited Freedom Movement in Goa, which was met with repression. Unarmed satyagrahis were mowed down with bullets. After a prolonged struggle, the movement lost its initial impetus.

After India’s Independence on 15th August 1947, the Indian Government started persuading the French to withdraw from India. When Indian Government saw positive hope from the French, they approached the Portuguese Government to withdraw, but Portuguese remained obdurate and claimed Gao, Daman and Diu as a province of Portugal.

The Freedom Movement in Goa was in subdued state in 1950. The freedom fighters were loosing confidence in leading an unequal struggle to a successful end, without guidance. In this depressing atmosphere, Sri. Atmaram Narsinh Karmalkar alias Appasaheb, the leader of National Liberation Movement Organisation took the reagins of the movement in his own hands. Mr. Appasaheb was a bank officer of Goa Government. He was suspected of supplying informations from the Portuguese Government side to freedom fighters. As there was no direct proof against Appasaheb, the Goan Government ordered his transfer from Goa to Africa. But Appasaheb managed to stay at Bombay. From June 1950 to 1953, Appasaheb remained in constant touch with Goa movement. He visited incognito Daman and Nagar Haveli several times to study the situation there.

Another organisation named United Front of Goans (UFG) was also taking part in liberating Goa. It was established in Bombay in 1950 by Francis Mascernhas, J M D’souuza, Waman Desai and others. When Captain Fernando da Costa Rombha became the Chief of Police at Daman in 1953, he didn’t like the activities of UFG in Daman and Nagar Haveli. Therefore, he invited Francis Mascerenhas, the President of UFG to discuss the future of Portuguese possessions in India. After much discussions among leaders of UFG, a delegation under the leadership of Mascerenhas went to Daman on 13th August 1953. After the failure of the said meeting, the members of the delegation were ill treated and detained for three days in Portuguese Police Custody, before being released outside of the Portuguese border.

Readers are requested to send their query/comments to Mr. Ashok Kumar Bayanwala, 96, Swastik Society,Navarangpura, AHMEDABAD-380009, INDIA or email to Prashant H. Pandya

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