Portuguese Possessions in India - July 1954

By the beginning of 1954, Sri. Appasaheb advised Goa Liberation Volunteers to concentrate their efforts to free Dadra & Nagar Haveli (D & N). Appasaheb met with three persons at Vapi, who were influential local man, whose name were Jayantibhai Desai, a Landlord from Dadra, who was managing an Ashram at Lavachha for the welfare of old ladies & men and supervising its huge landed properties, Bhikubhai Pandya, a ‘Vaid’ of Nani Daman and Vanmali Bhavsar, a Landlord of Silvassa.

Azad Gomantak Dal, a section of Goa National Congress was also active at D & N in 1954. Its leaders were Vishwanath Lavande, Dattatreya Deshpande, Prabhakar Sinari and Mr. Gole.

Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) from Pune was planning from December 1953, to liberate D & N. Its leaders were Raja Wakankar and Nana Kajrekar.

The Communist Party who was active in Talasari of Dahanu Taluka, were also planning to free D & N.

The National Movement Organisation (NMO), Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD) and RSS agreed to form a United Front for liberation of D & N, in April 1954. Raja Wakankar and Nana Kajrekar of RSS reported that Lavachha, a village in Union of India, which was situated in between Dadra And Nagar Haveli, which was separated from each other by 4 kms belt of land, was the most suitable place for liberation operation.

For raising funds for the Freedom Operation, it was decided to arrange a musical programme of famous artists. Sudhir Phadke, a prominent member of United Front and a well known Music Director, took responsibility of the Musical Concert. Arrangements were made to hold the musical programme on Sunday, the 19th April 1954 at Hirabaug in Pune. Lata Mangeshkar, Mohamad Rafi, C. Ramchandra and other agreed to participate, without accepting any professional fees, for the programme which was being arranged for raising funds for the campaign. Unfortunately, the scheduled programme was cancelled, because Lata Mangeshkar and party met with an accident on the highway. As Lata Mangeshkar and party were very eager to hold the programme, it was held on 2nd May 1954. The programme was a grand success.

Once, the funds were raised, the procurement of arms and ammunition were sought. On 18th June 1954, the leaders of NMO, AGD, and RSS gathered at Lavachha. As the Portuguese Government had their spies all around, the meeting was arranged in form of Bhajan, a musical programme at the Lavachha Ashram.

It was informed that Mr. Falcao, the Chief of Police at Silvassa, had a Police force of 329 constables. Out of which, three were at Dadra and nine were at Naroli. Dadra was surrounded from all sides by Indian territory and Naroli used to get isolated by River Damanganga during Monsoon. So, it was decided to take over Dadra and Naroli during Monsoon, in the month of July. And the takeover of Silvassa would be worked out after liberating Dadra and Naroli. Raja Wakankar of RSS and Viswanath Lavande of Azad Gomantak Dal agreed to bring 20 each trained volunteers for the operation. All leaders dispersed to meet again in July at Mahadeo Mandir of Karambele.

The situation all around D & N was controlled by Special Reserve Police (SRP) of Government of India. Mr. J. D. Nagarwala DIG was in overall control of SRP with the purpose of checking and preventing the infiltration of military personnel and material from Goa to Nagar Haveli. The SRP also controlled the entry, from and to the Portuguese area, by issuing permits, to stop the possibility of infiltration of undesirable persons, like workers and leaders of Communist Party.

When leaders of United Front of Goans (UFG), a leftist organisation, who were working independly, came to know the programme of NMO, AGD and RSS, they with a force of 15 persons, marched towards Dadra in night of 22nd July 1954. Mr. Rosario, the head of Dadra Police Station, observing suspicious movement, got scared and tried to take shelter in the Police Station, In the scuffle that followed, a volunteer of UFG, stabbed Mr. Rosario. He died instantly. The other two police man were overpowered by the UFG. Then the UFG leader, Mr. Mascerenehas immediately consulted the local elite and declared Dadra on 22nd July 1954, as ‘Free Territory of Dadra’. The President of UFG hoisted the Indian Tricolour Flag and Indian National Anthem was sung.

In the morning, the news spread like wild fire. Within 36 hours, a Panchayat of local leaders was formed and administration was handed over to them. Mr. Jayantibhai Desai became the first Sarpanch of Free State of Dadra. Mr. Mudras was appointed as administrator. And the liberation force receded in the background.

When UFG leaders got the credit of liberating Dadra from the Portuguese rule, the leaders of communist party Mrs. Godavaribai Parulekar, Mr. Shamrao Parulekar and others, decided to liberate certain villages inside Nagar Haveli, near Udva boundary. Mr. Nagarwala, the Chief of Special Reserve Police, who was under definite instructions from Indian Government, to see that the Communist leaders don’t extend their activities to Nagar Haveli, surrounded the premises on 27th July 1954, as soon as he received the news of a meeting of the leaders of Communist Party. Majority of the leaders escaped. After a few days, Mr & Mrs. Parulekar were put under house arrest.

On 28th July 1954, the leaders of RSS, Raja Wakankar and Nana Kajrekar with 20 volunteers and Prabhakar Sinari, the leader of AGD with 10 volunteers, proceeded to Naroli in night from Karambele. They crossed River Darotha, a tributary of Damanganga and reached the border of Naroli, which was cut off from the main land of Nagar Haveli by the flooding of Damanganga. There were only six constable at Naroli Police Station. They were asked to surrender by the force of RSS and AGD. The Chief and his constable surrendered. Thus on 28th July 1954, Naroli was liberated from the Portuguese yoke. On 29th July, the Gram Panchayat of Free Naroli was established.

At this juncture, Mr. Nagarwala put pressure on Captain Fidalgo, the administrator of Nagar Haveli, to surrender to Indian Police, through Bhagubhai, a notorious smuggler of the area. If Captain Fidalgo with his force surrenders, he would got a safe passage to Goa. Mr. Nagarwala reminded the Captain Fidalgo that the liberators had won two rounds and would attack Silvassa and the Captain with his force would be butchered for their past deeds. Actually, Mr. Nagarwala wanted to avoid Communists to capture Silvassa, which had managed to infiltrate deep in Nagar Haveli area.

On the other hand, Captain Fidalgo knew that the Indian Government had refused the Portuguese Government to permit its army to proceed to Dadra through Indian territories. He was also aware that Nagar Haveli was completely surrounded by Indian SRP forces. So, he requested for safe passage for his wife to Daman without committing about his surrender. Mr. Nagarwala immediately arranged permits for three persons and sent to Mr. Fidalgo through Mr. Cawasji Contractor, a Parsi gentleman friendly with both of them.

After the success at Naroli, the nationalist leaders of NMO, AGD and RSS again assembled at Karambele to plan their next step. As per informations, the Portuguese had concentrated at Silvassa with 200 armed guards and sufficient ammunition, the nationalist decided to arrange another 150 trained volunteers of RSS from Pune.

At that time rumours rampantly spread, that communist with thousands of Warlis (local tribemen) were preparing to attack Silvassa and UFG were also moving towards Silvassa. The Portuguese authorities got scared and shifted all police force from Piparia to Silvassa, leaving 5 persons to man the chowky.

The nationalist didn’t wish to allow the initiative to pass on to communists and repeat the mistake done at Dadra. So, they decided to take the advantage of confusion and to capture Piparia chowky. It was 1st August 1954, when one batch started from Naroli and another from Dadra to Piparia. The two batches joined to gather and attacked Piparia. On seeing the mob, the police of the Piparia chowky surrendered. This happened at about 3 PM. At that time, the news came that the RSS volunteers had arrived and were moving towards Silvassa from Vapi. At about 4 PM the jeep of Mrs. Fidalgo, who was going to Daman on transit permit issued by the Indian SRP, was stopped by the nationalists. The volunteers wanted to use Mrs. Fidalgo against Portuguese soldiers, by tying her to a chair on the bonnet of the jeep. But Mr. Appasaheb intervened in the matter, and the plan was cancelled. Then Appasaheb sent a letter to Captain Fidalgo, assuring him that his wife was safe and would be released, but he had to surrender with his men to the nationalist forces. Mr. Contractor who was accompanying Mrs. Fidalgo was sent with the letter. The Captain wanted some time to consult his superiors. After two hours, the second letter was sent but no reply came till 10 PM. So the nationalist decided to march towards Silvassa after handing over Mrs. Fidalgo and Mrs. Contractor to SRP unit at Lavachha.

Two batches were led by RSS and the third was led by AGD. All three batches moved from three different directions to Silvassa. At the same time, the Captain Fidalgo left Silvassa for Khanvel with his two assistants and 150 military personnel and instructed not to offer any resistance, to the remaining police. When nationalist forces reached Silvassa, not much resistance was offered. The Portuguese militia surrendered, but the liberators did not enter into Silvassa in the night. On 2nd August, the Nationalist Force entered Silvassa and declared the territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli liberated and requested the Indian Government to integrate these liberated areas with India.

After liberation, new conflicts among the leaders surfaced. Mr. Vishwanath Lawande, the leader of Azad Gomantak Dal declared himself as first administrator of D & N. But the masses resented the leadership and within 10 days, at a public meeting, chose Mr.Appasaheb Karmalkar, as first administrator of D & N.

But the danger was still there in form of Captain Fidalgo who was moving deep in Nagar Haveli with his 150 strong men. The volunteers followed the Captain Fidalgo who on 11th August 1954 surrendered with his men to SRP at Udva. Mr. Appasaheb allowed the Captain Fidalgo to go to Goa via Bombay, where his wife was staying.

On 15th August 1954, Mr. Appasaheb Karmalkar declared the territory as ‘FREE DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI’. Liberated Areas of D & N were integrated into Indian Union on 11th August 1961. Till than D & N remained the only independent area within Indian Union, which was ruled by its own people. It means that D & N was not a part of Indian Government from 2nd August 1954 to 11th August 1961.

Mails to D & N are very scarce and hard to get. It appears that mail of D & N used to go via Vapi only, from 2nd August 1954 to 11th August 1961.

The above two examples shows that mail had to pass through vapi only.

It appears that local mail of D & N used the remainder stock of Portuguese stamps, which available in post office of D & N till they were exhausted. The Portuguese stamps are found overprinted with the words “LIBERATED AREAS” in two lines.

These are also very scarce. The cancellation used on these stamps is very artistic.

 

Photocopies of above unobtainable covers are from the collection of Mr. Ajit Singhee of Hyderabad.

The liberation of Dadra on 22nd July 1954, shocked the Portuguese Government and they requested India on 24th July to allow them to take their armed forces through Indian territory to establish law and order at Dadra. The Indian Government turned down their demands. On 2nd August 1954, Nagar Haveli was also liberated and the Portuguese Government could not do anything. After 15 months the Portuguese Government filed a case against India with the International Court of Justice at Haigue on 22nd December 1955. They requested the Court to recognise their right to take armed forces and goods including amunitions to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, through Indian territories and to declare their sovereignty on those enclaves. The World Court gave its ruling on the said case on 12th April 1960, in favour of India.

The free State of Dadra and Nagar Haveli was integrated into Union of India on 11th August 1961 and it became Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli from such date.

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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