In Memoriam
Aniceto do Rosario & Antonio Fernandes
Patriots Remembered

©Agnelo Gracias.

The Invasion of Dadra Recalled: 50 Years Ago

Reference: London's Daily Telegraph's Report.

Flag of Goa, Portugal
Flag of Goa, Portugal
Dadra and Nagar-Aveli are two adjacent enclaves of Portuguese India located in the interior from Damaõ. Administratively, they belong to the District or Conselho of Damaõ, under the Governor of Damaõ. Dadra's headquarter is the village of Dadra; the town of Silvasa is the headquarters of Nagar-Aveli.

Of the small police force manning Dadra, three policemen, Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario, Sub-Chefe Antonio Fernandes, and a third policemen chose to obey the dictates of their conscience and to stand by their flag — that of Portugal — rather than heed the alluring and insidious seduction of traitors to join them in their treason. Aniceto and Antonio paid for their loyalty with their very lives, two stalwart patriots and heroes martyred by the Indian terrorists.

The Crime

On the 21st of July 1954 at 9.30 p.m. the Dadra Police Station was violently attacked and two police personnel of the Portuguese Indian Police Force, Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario and Sub-Chefe Antonio Fernandes were murdered and a third injured. Next morning, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru stated that he was surprised to read of the incident in the newspapers.

Aniceto do Rosario, Patriot & Martyr

Celebrating A Real Hero: Aniceto do Rosario, Patriot & Martyr, 1954, Against Indian Terrorism & Hypocritical Encroachment on Goa, Portugal

Remembrance of Aniceto do Rosario, Patriot & Martyr
Ten months later, the Bombay weekly Current carried an article by the editor D.F. Karaka, raising a number of embarrassing questions on the armed assaults on Dadra and Nagar Aveli and asked where the volunteers, admittedly invading Dadra & Nagar-Aveli from Indian territory, had procured their arms from in a country (India) where there had been the strictest control on the possession of fire-arms.

Many years later, I came to know from a Goan 'Nationalist' (i.e. Indianist or pro-Indian partisan) that the telegram to proceed with the assault on Dadra had come from Nehru himself. If one is to read the graphic descriptions of the preparations for, and the assault itself, one can conclude conclusively that the planning for the same had taken place over several months.

When eye-witnesses were interviewed many years later, they recalled the firing on and the return fire from the defenders of Dadra within the besieged Police Station to have lasted some 20 minutes and that the next morning the Indian flag was seen flying over the Police Station, with Indian policemen already manning the building.

The Background

Since Indian independence, the Governors of Damaõ, as well as the other officials of the District, including the Europeans, had always been allowed, by custom and tradition, to cross the Indian territory between Damaõ on the coast and the interior enclaves of Dadra and Nagar-Aveli, and to go and return from Vapi, without any formalities of visas or presenting themselves to the Indian authorities.

But there had been diplomatic notes from India to Portugal demanding the unconditional transfer (cession) of the six Portuguese enclaves (Goa, Damaõ, Dio, Dadra, Nagar-Aveli & the Isle of Anjediva) to the Indian Union and after these notes had been rebuffed by the Government of Portugal, the Indian Union decided to close down its legation in Lisboa with effect from the 11sth June 1953.

This, indeed, was the take-off signal for the Indian Union authorities to make false allegations on the treatment of Indians within Portuguese territories in order to justify its action against the Portuguese civil and police personnel transiting between Damaõ and the two enclaves (Dadra & Nagar-Aveli) dependent on it.

Preparations Start

Against the background of some alleged harassment of two Indians, B.S Sood and Bhatnagar, (identified by the Goan community as two of the many Indian spies and provocateurs) of the many thousands of Indians who had visited Goa for the Exposition of the Relics of St. Francis Xavier in December 1952, the Indian Union chose to withdraw the facilities of visa-less travel between Damaõ and its dependent enclaves from 26th October 1953 — 10 months later.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had stated in its note No D.6886 of 23 December 1953 that the District Magistrate of Surat was being authorized to grant transit visas to Portuguese European officials going from Damaõ to Dadra and to Nagar-Aveli, but in actual fact the District Magistrate claimed that his duty was only to notify the Passport Office in Bombay of the movements of Portuguese European officials and the issue of visas was still the responsibility of the Indian Consul-General in Nova Goa (Pangim).

From 3 February 1954 the Government of India prohibited the transshipment of arms and ammunition from Damaõ to Dadra & to Nagar-Aveli except for those arms carried personally the by the Governor-General of Goa and diplomatic personnel accredited to India.

The Build-Up

On 12 March 1954, Dr. Vasco Vieira Garin, Minister of Portugal in New Delhi drew the attention of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, that the population of Damaõ had been forbidden by India to purchase foodstuffs from Indian markets near the border and that Indian police posts in a radius of 20 to 30 kilometers from the border had been reinforced with 300 plain-clothes armed men.

On 9 April 1954, Dr. Pedro Teotonio Pereira, Ambassador of Portugal in Washington D.C., issued a confidential diplomatic note that following the withdrawal of the Indian Legation in Lisboa on 11 June 1953, there bad been an intensification in anti-Portuguese propaganda in India, that even postal services to Portuguese India had been subject to delay and that insurmountable difficulties had been placed in the transit of Portuguese officials between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli.

On 24 April 1954, the Legation of Portugal in New Delhi protested the new restrictive measures on motor traffic between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli. In a separate note of the same date, Dr. Vasco Vieira Garin exposed a new system of permits for all Portuguese officials, not just Europeans, to enter and cross Indian territory.

On 27 April 1954 Dr. Garin called the attention of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to persistent rumours of invasion of Portuguese villages in Dio. On 6 July 1954 the Legation of Portugal in New Delhi verbally took up with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs the sudden arrest and deportation to Goa of a long-standing Bombay resident, Mr. Pompeia Viegas.

The Aggression

The Police Station of Dadra which was attacked by the Indian terrorists, August 1954
The Police Station of Dadra which was attacked by the Indian terrorists and was the site of the Martyrdom of Aniceto do Rosario & Companions, August 1954
On 22 July 1954 the Government of Goa telegraphed Lisboa that
  1. On his arrival at the frontier on 22 July 1954 the Governor of Damaõ had been refused permission to proceed to Dadra & Nagar-Aveli on fictitious grounds that separate visas for arrival and departure were required and not on the passport presented; but, having obtained these visas at Vapi, he visited Dadra but on his return to Vapi he was sent back to Dadra for awhile in order that he may not see the movement of Indian troops being deployed, as per intelligence, for the invasion of Dadra, and 

  2. The Governor was encountering hostile preparations, the outcome of which appeared in the Indian press on 22 July 1954. There had arrived at Vapi a group of about 1200 "volunteers" consisting of ex-Indian military personnel and officials, about a dozen jeeps, and radio and combat equipment. On the same day, namely, 22 July 1954 the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the press that links between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli had been cut, that Dadra had been practically encircled by a Mahratta Infantry unit, that between Dadra and Nagar-Aveli considrable armed forces had been placed, and that the situation there was grave.
The following day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lisboa, announced that an aggression had been launched against Dadra and deplored the loss of life of and injuries to the police personnel defending Dadra.

The Portuguese Legation in New Delhi in a note No. 98 dated 24 July 1954 to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs communicated that Dadra had been the object of armed aggression, that as a result of the hindrance of communications between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli the Portuguese Government was not fully aware of the details of what had happened, that a state of violent usurpation did exist which could not in any way impair the sovereignty and the rights of Portugal in connection with the victims of aggression, and that the Indian Union grant transit facilities to the Portuguese armed forces and the authorities staying in Damaõ to enable them to re-establish the order that had been disrupted.

The Ground Reality

Bombay newspapers on the morning of 22 July 1954 reported that the first chunk of Portuguese territory had been "liberated" by the United Front of Goans and displayed a photograph of its president Francisco Mascarenhas, in gumboots as "Supreme Commander" hoisting the Indian flag in front of the Dadra Police Station the previous night.

It transpired that the renegade Francisco Mascarenhas had actually been holed up by Indian military personnel in the waiting room at the Vapi Railway Station until the violent occupation of the Police Station had been accomplished in around 20 minutes, starting at 9.30 p.m. on 21 July 1954 and only then was he transported to the site of the murder of its defenders, the patriots Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes in order to moderate public opinion to what the Indian press made it appear — an action purely undertaken by "anti-Portuguese" Goans.

Aniceto Rosario was in charge of the Police Post, Antonio Fernandes and the third man were under him. Another officer, Francisco Xavier Stein de Lira, fled from the rear of the Police Post, leaving the rear door open for the enemy.

According to the brother of Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario, an engine-driver of the Indian Railways, on the morning of 21 July 1954, some men had called at the Dadra Police Post to advice Aniceto do Rosario and his subordinates that they planned to attack at night-fall, and advising him and his men to surrender but Rosario and his men (except one) opted to remain steadfast with the Portuguese Flag even unto death.

In front of the Police Station stands the Flag Post, where the National Flag used to fly. As the mob of terrorists charged the Police Post, one of them attempted to tear down the National Flag; Antonio Fernandes could not stand this desecration but rushed out and shot him down; for his labours, he received the crown of martyrdom at their hands.

Aniceto do Rosario and another, a Muslim, held the Police Station, and with a judicious use of their arms, shot down many of the terrorists. However, they were vastly outnumbered, and one of the terrorists crept in from behind, through the back door left open by Stein de Lira, and stabbed the great martyr in the back, thus bringing him his martyr's crown.

Stein de Lira cooperated with the terrorists, and became a collaborator; the enemies triumphantly flaunted him as the "Regidor of Dadra", and as a means of justifying themselves.

So heavy was the toll inflicted by the heroes upon the terrorists that, according to eye-witnesses, at least two truckloads of their corpses had to be carted away.

For his courage and integrity, Dom Aniceto do Rosario was awarded post-humously the highest award of Portugal: "Order of the Tower and Sword".

The bodies of Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes were buried in a field adjacent to the site of their martyrdom. The Indians refused to permit any markers, but a cleric insisted on placing markers on their graves. Later, their remains were repatriated to Damao, where they were re-intered in the Fort.

In the city of Damaõ, the streets near their homes were named after our heroes: Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes. The Indians have renamed these streets after some of their fellows, after the Occupation of Damaõ, in December 1961.

Viva Portugal!

Agnelo Gracias, Dabul, Bombay.
The assasination of Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes at the Dadra post on the 21st. July 1954

Obituary in the Times of India on the first death anniversary, page 2:


Rosario - Fernandes, Requiem High Mass on July 21, 1955 at 7.00 a.m.. Church of St, Francis Xavier, Dabul, Bombay, offered by the Goans of Bombay for the souls of Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes, our National martyrs who sacrificed their lives that we may live in freedom.

Come, let us pray for them that killed them,
Come, pray for those who died.


Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine unto them.

Lord, give us the grace to die like them,
If we should ever be tried as they.

'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.'

Further Notes

In the morning of July 21, 1954 some men visited Aniceto do Rosario at the Dadra police station and told him that 'they' would be coming in the evening and he and his men should surrender but instead he put up a fight. The post was attacked around 9.30 p.m. from across the road and firing continued for around 20 minutes. The rear door of the police station was open and that is where the miscreants entered and killed Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes. They were buried in the grounds of the Franciscan monastery in Dadra but somewhere in 1959/60 through the intervention of the Red Cross and after personal application of Aniceto's brother to the government of India the remains were allowed to be taken to Damao.

Till the battle at Dadra was over, Francis Mascarenhas was kept waiting in the Vapi waiting room and then he was driven to Dadra to make it appear that he 'liberated' it as 'supreme commander.'

One Pereira, senior police officer after Falcao, wanted to put up a stand at Canoel but when he found that Fidalgo and Falcao had crossed into Indian territory, he surrendered with his men who were kept in detention at Canoel till November and were then allowed to proceed to Damao. When Fidalgo and Falcao crossed into Indian territory in Nasik District they were brought to Bombay and were at the residence of a Parsi, Mr. Contractor, who harboured them for few days till they got back into Portuguese territory.

For six months the residents of Dadra and Nagar Aveli were not allowed to step out of the areas till a formal permit system was introduced.

The Indian Union's
Invasions of Portuguese India

Account of the Invasions of Dadra
And Of Nagar-Aveli

©Agnelo Gracias.

Times of India, Friday, July 23, 1954

"Goans Liberate Dadra in Daman"; "Volunteers Overcome Police Resistance"; "People Salute Indian Tricolour"

"The Liberation Volunteers" met with resistance from a group of Daman (Portuguese) Police station, who, it is alleged, opened fire. The volunteers with the help of the local population arrested 32 Portuguese policement stationed at Dadra aand seized from them one sten gun and 6 revolvers and other arms.

One Portuguese police officer was killed while 2 or 3 policemen were injured.

Francis Mascarenhas said: All is set for the volunteers to march into Silvasa.
Times of India: July 24, 1954

Vapi, July, 23, 1954: An Azad Dadra administration was set up 36 hours of its liberation by the United Front of Goans. Francis Mascarenhas, president of the front proclaimed himself as supreme commander of the azad forces.

Displayed at the armoury were the weapons taken over by the liberation forces. They included 8 rifles, 3 revolvers, 2 guns and 1300 rounds of ammunion.

The village of Dadra was liberated shortly after midnight on Wednesday (July 21) after a 60 minutes skirmish.

The Governor of Daman had visited on Tuesday (July 20) night.

One of the police was handed over to the Indian authorities for medical treatment.
Times of India, Sunday, July 25, 1954:

Picture 1 - Francis Mascarenhas in gumboots. A man in Indian military uniform is besides him.

Picture 2 - Dadra police station.

Picture 3 - Francis Xavier Stein de Lira, Patel, now a prisoner of the liberation forces.

The Union government has agreed to a representation of the local people to open a post office immediately.

The chief administrator of Dadra appointed after the village was liberated was Mr. R.V. Mudra.
Lisbon, July 24: The Portuguese press department announced that more Indian troops at the frontier of Daman and had started digging along the southern border.
Times of India, Monday, July 24, 1954

Ajmer, July 25, 1954: AICC adopts motion on foreign pockets.
Lisbon, July 25: President Francisco Craviero Lopes expressed indignation over the delicate emergency. "We are preparted to defend by all means available to us the land and the people that are Portuguese, the civilisation we created there (in India) and the faith we spread."
Times of India, July 27, 1954
Vapi, July 26, 1954: 28 policemen released and handed over to the Indian authorities at Vapi who were taken into custory by the Indians for not being in possession of valid passports.
Times of India, July 29, 1954

Dadra, July 28, 1954: Volunteers of the Goa People's Party today went into Nagar Haveli taluka without meeting any opposition and collected information about the deployment of the police force.
Times of India, July 30, 1954

Azad Goa Dal march into Nagar Haveli. Naroli town seized. A band of 50 men took only 10 minutes to disarm 11 constables and take possession of the town. Police Patel Francisco Xavier Machado agreed to collaborate.
Times of India, Saturday, July 31, 1954

New Delhi, July 30, 1954: Government of India expels Portuguese consul staff in Bombay (Dr. Emilio Patreco & Dr. Antonio Eduardo de Carvalho Ressano Garcia) in retaliation to Lisbon action expelling Vincent Coelho & G.A. Prabhu.
Buenos Aires, July 30, 1954: The Argentine Foreign Minister, Dr. Jeronimo Remorino said at a press conference that his country had received a request to mediate rom Lisbon. He would only state that his government was studying the matter with great interest.
Times of India, Sunday Edition, August 1, 1954

Lisbon, July 31, 1954: Passports to enclaves. All Indian citizens entering Portuguese territories in India must possess a passport or equivalent document with a Portuguese consular visa. This replaces the traditional facilities which India had "unilaterally suppressed."
Vapi, August 1: Silvassa Falls. Silvassa having a population of 5000 was liberated late on Saturday evening by the Goa People's Party.
Karandele, July 31, 1954: 3 more villages liberated by Goa Dal: Vakchapa in the north, Khandvel in the east.
Lisbon, July 31, 1954: The Ministry of Overseas Territories announced that the Portuguese Police had recaptured Naroli.
Times of India, Monday, August 2, 1954

Vapi, August 1: Entire enclave of Nagar Haveli will fall soon. Fighting in Selvasa. Reports indicated that fighting was in progress right inside the town between the volunteers of the Azad Gomantak Dal and the Portuguese police.
Times of India, August 3, 1954

Selvasa, August 2: Indian flag hoisted over Selvasa, Portuguese officers flee with arms.
General Note on research in Times of India, July 23, 1954 upto and including August 3, 1954
  1. The "United Front of Goans" (UFG) parked itself in Dadra.

  2. Invaders of Nagar-Aveli alternate in nomenclature from the "Goa People's Party" to the "Azad Gomantak Dal" ("Free Goan Army") but in reality they were one and the same and were led by V.N. Lawande, "Dal Pramukh" (Army Supreme Commander).

  3. After consolidating in Nagar Aveli, the "Azad Gomantak Dal" told the "UFG" to hand over Dadra but the latter refused and the former then stated that the issue would be resolved by the people of Dadra.

  4. Shortly after the "Liberation", I learnt that members of the "UFG" had approached Godrej Ltd., in Poona, for a duplicate key to a steel safe. When Godrej checked the number of the safe they found that it had been sold to the Government of Portugal for Dadra and the notified the Bombay police who placed Francis Mascarenhas, president of the UFG, under house arrest for stealing the safe from Dadra. Was it for this reason, or was it pre-planned, that a different group would enter and seize Nagar-Aveli.

  5. Initially, after the capture of Dadra, where four of its defenders were reportedly murdered (Aniceto do Rosario, Clemente Pereira, and an unknown within the Dadra Police station, and one more (Antonio Fernandes) who died of his wounds in the hospital at Bulsar, the invaders seized 28 police and forest guards and handed them over to the Indian frontier police at Vapi where they were thereupon charged with illegal entry into the Indian Union with passports and visas. So too, after the capture of Nagar-Aveli, all police and administrative personnel were first held at Canoel ("Khandvel"), there scrutinised one by one. Some police personnel had reported for duty within Nagar-Aveli after April 1, 1954, the date on which visas were extended to all native Goan / Damanese state employees, and these persons were brought to Bombay for interrogation as to how they had crossed from Damao to Silvassa without visas after that date. The Legation of Portugal in New Delhi took up their cases for repatriation to Damao very strongly and on ongoing basis for many months. All were given passports by the Portuguese Consulate General in Bombay but, despite promises of exit visas for Goa or Damao, the Indian passport office in Bombay kept their cases pending over prolonged periods.

©Agnelo Gracias.
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