Dr. A.A. Bruto da Costa To Indira Gandhi

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A.A. Bruto da Costa, Rua de Abade Faria,
G O A.

August 5th, 1967.


Mrs. Indira Gandhi,
Prime Minister of India,
New Delhi.


          A few months after the invasion and occupation of Goa, my dearly loved Motherland, I could not repress my feelings and gave expression to my own "J'accuse" in a long letter addressed to the then Prime Minister of India, the Late J. Nehru, on 15th August 1962 [Text here].

          Five long years have now elapsed, and today, I feel the need of striking a responsive chord in your conscience, as the Prime Minister of India, and through you, in the conscience of the whole Indian Nation.

          From the day the Arab world suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of tiny Israel, you found it necessary, Madam, to keep on proclaiming to the world at large that "we cannot endorse the policy of any country which seeks to retain the fruits of aggression".

          In the Security Council, the Indian Chief Delegate was equally incisive when he declared: "India made it clear that she would have preferred linking up the cease-fire with withdrawals, so that aggressors would be denied the fruits of aggression", and he underlined "this practice is obviously based on the sound principle that the aggressor should not be permitted by the international community to enjoy the fruits of aggression. This — he added — is also a most important tenet of international law and practice and the only basis on which lasting peace could be built in the troubled area of the Middle East".

          The Indian Congress Executive Committee, in turn, in its 25th June Session passed unanimously a resolution to the effect that it "endorsed the Government of India's stand on West Asian conflict and its resolve to make every effort to ensure that solutions to the problems are found that did not in any way condone the bringing about of territorial changes by use of force."

          In the above connection a local daily had this to say: "When India insists on the withdrawal of the Israeli troops to the positions held before the outbreak of hostilities, she does so with her thoughts turned to the occupation of a part of Kashmir by Pakistan as a result of military operations, and to the Indian territories in NEFA and her North Eastern border by China by aggressive action in 1962. In case India were to accept publicly the readjustment of the borders in teh Middle East by force of arms, her case in Kashmir and in the Sino-Indian border would collapse from the very foundation".

          But — I may be permitted to ask — how can India, in these circumstances, aware of and evincing unstinted support for respect and fulfilment of the rigid principles of the International Public Law, continue to hold on to Goa, Daman and Diu — fruits of aggression? I leave the reply to that question to your own conscience... and proceed.

          May I also refresh your memory, Madam, by recalling that as recently as in 1964, at the Cairo Conference, the delegates of the Afro-Asian nations passed a resolution, at the suggestion of the then Prime Minister of India, the Late Mr. L.B. Shastri, to the effect that "frontiers existing at the time when States gained their independence should be respected", and agreed not to recognize the fruits of aggression? And that on his way back home from Cairo, the same Mr. Shastri, found it expedient to stress, in an interview with the press at Karachi, that "the changes brought about by force cannot be recognized"? It is quite obvious that he had in mind the aggression in Kashmir, Ladakh and the NEFA, quite oblivious to the little skeleton of Goa, Daman and Diu in his own cupboard.

          Referring to the Chinese aggression in NEFA one of the Indian High Commissioners declared: "It is unprecedented in the history of international relations that after one State has publicly exercised full administrative jurisdiction for several centuries on certain region, another State should raise a dispute regarding their ownership".

          Mr. Swaran Singh, the Chief Indian representative to the General Assembly of the U.N.O., on the other hand, pointed an accusing finger at China and said "China is following the path of war, and in 1962 she committed aggression against my country, and even up to this date she is in possession of an area of 14,500 sq.m. thus committing an act contrary to the spirit of Bandung and to the rules of international behaviour".

          This poses the following question: "How consistent and honest has India been in her profession by invading and occupying the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu and holding on to these fruits of aggression"? I leave the answer, Madam, to your conscience.

          Undeterred either by criticism abroad or opposition at home, the Congress Government of India goes on striking the same note. Thus, in the 21st June Session of the General Assembly, India insisted on the implementation of "the total unqualified, immediate and unconditional withdrawals of all Israeli forces from all Arab territories". And the Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr. Chagla, after declaring that "first things must come first and that withdrawal is the first step now", stressed in an inspiring and thought-provoking speech: "If the United Nations were to acquiesce in the proposition that the victory in an armed conflict could defy the United Nations mandate and violate the basic principles of the Charter, we might as well tear up the Charter and admit to ourselves that the idea of the World Community living in peace was only a dream and that the reality is that might is right, and that the strong and victorious shall prevail and justice and right must submit to the behests of the party to the military conflict which was victorious in the field of battle".

          No truer words were ever spoken, Madam. But they pose other pertinent questions, which I again leave to your own conscience to answer.

          Could it be that India did not violate the basic principles of the U.N. Charter by invading and forcibly occupying Goa, Daman and Diu? Does not her refusal to vacate that that aggression and withdraw from the occupied territories, as decreed by the Security Council despite the Russian veto, constitute a defiance of the principles embodied in the U.N. Charter? Was it not India which, in this particular case, proclaimed the principle that "might is right; that the strong and victorious shall prevail and that justice and right must submit to the behests of the party to the military conflict which has been victorious in the field of battle"?

          I need not go into those principles which the U.N. Charter embodies. Your own pronouncements as well as those of your Minister for External Affairs, both at home as well as abroad, notably in the U.N. provide sufficient evidence to show how well you are acquainted with them and with their impacts and implications. And yet, though bound by those principles and committed to honor and respect them in her international relations, India dishonored her pledge without any qualms of conscience in Goa, Daman and Diu.

          Man's memory is seemingly short, which compels me to remind you, Madam, the questionable means resorted to by India in flagrant violation of all rules of international behaviour, in conquering and occupying the land of my ancestors.

          Because the acts of sabotage and terrorism committed by the hirelings of India, equipped with arms and ammunition, did not yield the desired results, rather strengthened the will of the people to resist foreign encroachment, India dropped her mask of pacifism and ordered the invasion and occupation of Goa, Daman and Diu. By this deed, she tore up the U.N. Charter, of which she has now become the staunchest defender. And what is more, she trampled underfoot her own Constitution, not to speak of the most elementary rules of international conduct. The world stood amazed and dumbfounded, at this disenchantment of the peaceful and non-violent professions of India, which finding herself in a quandary, tried to lull the peo;e of the conquered territories and lead them and the world through a realm of fantasy, by describing the aggression as 'liberation'.

          As a device to decieve th naive and the teeming millions of illiterate Indians, this charming description may be acceptable, but as an argument founded on moral or legal grounds, it is not worth even one 'naya paise' after the devaluation of the Indian rupee.

          I am a jurist, Madam, but I shall refrain from a digression through the realms of jurisprudence to prove that juridically India has no legs to stand on in Goa, Daman and Diu. You are no doubt aware of it, and Mr. Chagla, an eminent jurist himself, must perforce know how weak the Indian case is. I only wish to stress the pont that the argument that Goa, Daman and Diu were colonies of a foreign power in the Indian sub-continent cannot also provide any grist to the Indian mill. Nowhere can one find, Madam, that "colonies" of sovereign powers can be conquered and annexed unilaterally by other sovereign powers. The Charter of the U.N. expressly forbids it, and a special Committee appointed by the U.N. has set out procedural rules for the self-emancipation of what are commonly known as "colonies". Suffice it to say that when the British left India and gave independence to what was formerly British India, they created two independent political states — India and Pakistan. Goa, Daman and Diu, existed much before British India, and to mistake India a territorial extension, with India as a political unit, is to mistake chalk for cheese. Perhaps it may interest you to know that it was the Government of India itself, through its Ministry of External Affairs that expressly recognized the fact that Goa, Daman and Diu were not intended to be parts of political India when it declared categorically, in a booklet entitled "Goa and the Charter of the United Nations", in 1960:
"There is no justification for discrimination between aspirations and rights of one colonial people and another. In its aspirations for freedom and independence, all humanity is one and equal. If the colonies of the United Kingdom or the United States have become independent, on what grounds could it be argued that Goa, Angola, Mocambique, or any other dependent territory must not aspire to the destiny of Ghana or Nigeria, and must remain content only with being integral parts of so-called metropolitan country?"
          I ask you, Madam, what was the political status envisaged for Goa, Daman and Diu, by the Government of India itself, when it publicly propounded the above scheme? On what grounds can you then justify the unilateral annexation of those territories by conquest? I leave the answer to these questions to your own conscience.

          It is not I, Madam, a physically blind man, who says that these territories have been acquired by conquest. It was the Supreme Court of India which said so, but concurring with the views of the Counsel for the Government of India in a Writ Petition, in a ruling dated 9th August 1965.

          We need not delve into books on International Law, nor reproduce the views of eminent international law publicists to conclude that conquest in the context of the evolution of International Public Law today is unlawful, and that an unlawful act is incapable of creating beneficial results to the law-breaker — "Ex injuria jus non oritur". It is the U.N. Charter itself, from which Mr. Chagla has been quoting at length, that expressly and categorically prohibits annexation of foreign territories by use of force and conquest.

          On wha moral or legal grounds can you, Madam, discriminate between the conquest of Sinai by Israel and of Goa, Daman and Diu by India? Can it be that what is sauce for the Israeli goose is not sauce for the Indian gander? I leave the answer to these questions to your conscience, Madam.

          Flying in the face of international law and morality, the Government of India deemed it right to submit a Bill and steer it through the Parliament, annexing the territories of Goa, Daman and Diu to the Union territory, by an Amendment to the Constitution. ANd this was followed by the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, foisting the Indian Citizenship, willy-nilly, on the people of these territories. It was undoubtedly an convenient means of shutting the mouth and eyes of the World, by presenting it with a 'fait accompli' on the sound belief that man's memory is short indeed. This is the only explanation your as well as Mr. Chagla's vociferous demand for respect for the Charter of the United Nations by Israel.

          Let it not be said, Madam, that the people of Goa, Daman and Diu have, since that fateful day in December 1961, had two elections and one Opinion Poll to choose a Government of their choice — the pet argument resorted to by the Indian politicians in justification of the unlawful act of their Government or as a convenient veil of Khadar drawn over the deed that has culminated in the abject subjection of a people, who have been denied the right to choose their own destiny free from outside pressure or step-motherly treatment.

          The elections and the Opinion Poll have been for them a Hobson's Choice — either stay as a Union Territory or be merged with the neighbouring state. And they chose the lesser of the two evils.

          The Government of India proclaimed, Madam, for the whole world to hear:
"In its aspirations for freedom and independence, all humanity is one and equal."
          Since when has the Government of India decided that this high-sounding principle has ceased to be applicable to the people of Goa, Daman and Diu? I leave the answer to your own conscience, Madam.

          You and your Minister for External Affairs, Madam, have been speaking like a book, saying gospel truths, by drawing inspiration, perhaps, from the age old wisdom of ancient India. Thus, when the resolution of the non-aligned nations in the U.N. General Assembly calling upon Israel to withdraw from the territories it had acquired as a result of military conquest, had failed to secure the required majority, the warned: "there are disputes with regard to boundaries and territories in many countries all over the world, and if the Israeli precedent is accepted, then all that a country has got to do is to seize hold of territories of another country, sit tight on it and insist on negotiations without vacating its aggressions."

          He has expressed himself in the same vein at home, and in Cairo and Belgrade recently. What is interesting is that his words have a familiar ring. Do you not notice it, Madam? he might have been speaking for the Goans, in 1961, for was not India, who claimed to have a territorial dispute then, and did she not create a precedent, for others to follow, by seizing the territory of another country, sitting tight on it, and eventually annexing it? And what is more, is she not enjoying the fruits of aggression in flagrant violation of the rules governing international relations and morality? I leave the answer to your own conscience, Madam.

          I am a blind man, Madam, and physically incapacitated, but I am a deeply religious man, and my faith in God and belief in His mercy and justice are boundless. I can feel keenly the sufferings through which the people of my land have been going through since December 1961, and I have likewise felt deeply the vicissitudes through which India has gone since then, and have followed the malaise, the ills and the misfortunes that have been besetting that country since that fateful day in December 1961. Strangely, enough, I feel too that God is as merciful as He is just. If you, Madam, overburned with the cares of the affairs of the State as you are, should spare some time for a self-introspection, you too will no doubt feel the presence of God, the dispenser of mercy and justice. You may perhaps discover that there is indeed truth in the saying: "As you sow, so shall you reap"!

          In case this letter should lead you to the conviction that there is indeed wisom in the sayings of the age old gurus and rishis and saints of your ancient land, as well as in the unspoken words of God, who is my sole support and consoler in this earthly life, I shall consider myself amply rewarded for the effort it has cost me to have this letter addressed to you.

          With the assurance of my highest consideration and esteem,

  Yours faithfully,

A.A. Bruto da Costa

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