Notebook: The Issue of Goa

Notebook: The Issue of Goa

Dear Plastrik:

Thank you for your cable of 19th inst. I find it difficult to understand what the dismay is about.

Goa, Diu and Daman were three Portuguese possessions in India. After the British and the French left from India, we naturally wanted peaceful transfer of power by the Portuguese also. We cannot acquiesce in colonial possessions anywhere, least of all on our own soil. The people of these three possessions-600,000 of them—are part of our own people and they do not want and cannot be allowed to be outside our Republic.

For fourteen years we sought to achieve amicable settlement. There were frequent unrests in the possessions and the people were brutally suppressed. In 1956 there was a mass movement in which many satyagrahis were killed. A number of my colleagues carry the scars of those days on their bodies today.

Portugal began aligning with Pakistan and made Goa a hostile base against us. All reasonable pleas for settlement were ignored. Trouble was brewing afresh in Goa. The Portuguese authorities considerably fortified their positions to suppress popular upsurge. They also started intimidating our people on the border areas.

India, in our opinion, after having shown patience for fourteen years was fully justified in taking military action against the Portuguese authorities in India. The core of the campaign and the warmth of welcome from the people show that the Portuguese had no supporters among the Goans.

Even the former French possessions are today administered democratically but as a distinct administrative unit. So will be the Portuguese enclaves. We have a cultural agreement with France, we would welcome a similar agreement with Portugal. We do not want to snap the cultural ties. We would like them to be regularized. Political control, however, we cannot accept.

DISSENT, at least should recognize that non-violence and peace cannot be allowed to become synonyms for status quo. If the civilized world will not help to change our iniquitous status quo, iniquitous not in subjective terms but in terms of commonly accepted canons: the evolving of international order of decolonialization—even after fourteen years, we cannot remain supinely indifferent.

We have no quarrel with the Portuguese people or their Government. We desire the same friendship with them now that we have established with Britain and France. Our action was not an expression of power politics or of our armed might, but the assertion of the freedom of our people which has to be respected.