Times, London, etc., Newsreports: 1954-1955

Extracts from the Times, London, and other papers, on the Goan Question and India's Rape of Goa, 1961. Transcribed for the public record by Lúcio Mascarenhas, Goan Patriot, from the news-clipping collection of the Patriot, Senhor Agnelo Gracias.



Quiet seems to prevail on the frontier between Goa and the Indian Union, and our Special Correspondent entered the Portuguese enclave without obstruction or difficulty.

After a visit to the Goan capital, where he saw little evidence of tension, he visited a frontier post where, he reports, any Indian would be invaders on Sunday will be met by Customs officials and a battery of loudspeakers.

A Portuguese lieutenant who has been conducting guerilla tactics against Indian "volunteers" in the Nagar Aveli enclave is reported to have surrendered, but in Goa it is claimed that resistance there continues.



From Our Special Correspondent Polem, Goa, Aug. 12: If Indian demonstrators cross into Goa at this small frontier post on Sunday they will be met not only by troops or armed police but by a few immigration officials and Customs officers and a battery of loudspeakers, hanging from palm trees, through which the Portuguese will presumably broadcast.

Thus, if the demonstrators offer "satyagraha", that is, if they depend on moral persuasion and not force to win their objective, namely Goan union with India, they will find the first line of defence manned by men of peace who are equally sincere in their beliefs. The loudspeakers will ensure that the counter-arguments of the defenders are given with some force.


This moral rearming should at least be interesting, so long as everybody plays the game according to the rules, and there could not be a more appropriate setting. The country through which the southern frontier of Goa runs is peaceful and lovely. A clean, golden beach beckons like a travel poster, and in the rice-fields women dressed in red and yellow saris arew working with no apparent apprehension. At the frontier post there are six barrels of wine, and butterflies can be seen among the flowering hedgerows. Moral warfare here could be a great pleasure.

Our Special Correspondent in an earlier message fom Panjim, the Goan capital, wrote:-
The first reaction of any observer entering Goa from India must be to look at the map to see if there are two Goas, for the land that tumbles down the escarpment of the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea is very different from the Goa described in the Indian Press.

Before your Correspondent left Bombay it was reported that the Governor-General had been recalled to Lisbon because it was feared that he was sympathetic to India and might cause Goan union with India. To echo Mark Twain, it can be said that the report was exaggerated. General Guedes met correspondents yesterday and said that they could visit the frontier areas — and the prisons, where, again according to the Indian Press, thousands of political prisoners are said to be held without trial.


It had also been reported that trains to India were to be stopped on Tuesday, but on that day your Correspondent travelled from India with no inconvenience. Suspicious Indian police were a little more suspicious, but equally polite, and the Customs officials were friendly. For a traveller from India it is still easier to enter Goa than to enter Pakistan.

"War frenzy" and "massive repression," two common headlines in India, are difficult to define, but it is even more difficult to find evidence of them in Goa. On the journey from Castle Rock, the Indian frontier post, to this small capital only one elderly armoured car, with a crew of four unshaven but friendly soldiers, was seen. The only aircraft here are two ancient contraptions preserved in memory of some forgotten pioneers. If the peasants and townfolk your Correspondent has seen are suffering from repression, it is a subtle, unseen kind that does not exist elsewhere. It would demand extreme efficiency, which here is pleasantly absent.

These reports or inventions may mislead but they are of little consequence, although it would be as well if neutral obsevers could be allowed to report on the situation. The Government of India, however, is acting on the assumption that Goa is a part of India and that its people are struggling to free themselves from colonial repression, and this at least can be questioned.


The difference between Goa and the neighbouring Bombay state is startling, and it bcomes evident as soon as the train begins to descend the Western Ghats, which on the east provides a natural frontier which many European countries may envy. Apart from her land frontier, Goa is not unlike Ceylon.

The Goan, especially the Goan Christian, seems to belong to a different race. His features are finer, and he is of more gentle aspect, than the fierce, marital type of the Deccan. He wears European clothes more easily, and his habits and his architecture has been influenced by the West. Most houses have tiled roofs and there is little of the litter—squalor is not the right word—with which the Indian peasant, oblivious to material comforts, surrounds himself. Colonization always means something different to the Portuguese—in many ways Portuguese colonization approximates closer to the Roman conception that did the British—and it can be said that Albuquerque and his successors did a very good job.

There is no colour bar here, as in so many British dependencies, and religion is a close bond between Portuguese and Goan. Perhaps the human warmth and mysticism of Roman Catholicism has a special attraction for Asians, or perhaps, with the little drop of European blood that most Goans seem to have, it is a disntinction to which Goans cling to save themselves from being enveloped by India. Whatever it is, religion has an enormous influence.

There are churches in most villages—the clergy are mostly Goans—and shrines at most cross-roads. At night, numerous persons burn candles before them.


In most villages there also cafes and bars and although it may be irreverent or irrelevant to report this, they have some significance because, while the Goan likes to drink in the casual continental fashion, across the frontier prohibition is enforced with puritanical ferocity. Those observers who favour union with India frequently refer to the difficulties encountered by the Excise men of Bombay, but never pause to think of the disasterous effect which prohibition would have on Goan social life.

There can be no doubt that Goa has a distinctive life of its own and, though its various aspects may appear to be of small account to graduates in political science, most Goans seem to like it. Conrad would have appreciated it more than Laski, but, if self-determination means anything outside the political textbooks, it would be wrong to assume that 6,00,000 Goans were struggling to free themselves from European imperialism.

The Government of India also appears to assume that there is a strong Goan liberation movement in India. Presumably it takes note only of Goan movements, and not of Communist and other Indian parties, such as the Jan Sangh, who are Hindu nationalists. Certainly there are Goans in India, especially in Bombay, who favour union with India, but there are many who do not. Your Correspondent has met both kinds.

The first group are sincere, but they would seem to be people who have lived so long in India that they regard themselves as Indian. This would not be difficult in such a cosmopolitan city as Bombay, where, it is said, 80,000 of the 1,20,000 Goans in India live.


The active pro-merger Goans, as they are called, seem mostly to be professional people who naturally associate with Indian intellectuals.

The vast majority of Goans in India are clerks and domestic servants with little political interests. But there are many Goans of the professional type in Bombay who are loyal to Goa; and they are not silent. They produce a weekly newspaper to further their cause; its publication is a tribute to official Indian liberalism, but it is also proof of a fervid if anachronistic Goan loyalty.

According to the Indian Press one of the leaders of the "demonstrators" said on Monday that he hoped that the Portuguese authorities would treat his group in the civilized manner use by the British administration in the good old days of Congress agitation.

General Guedes said yesterday that demonstrators coming from India could not expect similar treatment, because they would be interlopers from a foreign country, but nevertheless it seems that the Portuguese will avoid bloodshed if possible.

General Guedes is an urbane man who confidently sits under the portraits of his predecessors, a gallery of mustachioed soldiers and navigators stretching back to Albuquerque. Only one soldier stands at the front door of the Secretariat building, but the back door is open and unguarded. The Goans are busy buying American shirts, Scotch whisky and Japanese toys, on which only a tiny import duty is imposed, and seem unaware of the tension reported in the Indian Press to be existing here.


This is probably partly due to the local censorship, which is described as beneficial and is said to permit criticism if it is courteous, constructive and correct. The enormous dignity of the few Portuguese officials is another factor, and poor communications are certainly a third. Nobody seems to know, for example, what is really happening in the enclave of Nagar-Avelim. General Guedes yesterday described the situation as fluid; the number of occupied villages is not known, and of course Portuguese reinforcements are not permitted to cross Indian territory to reimpose law and order.

The only confirmed news is that only two Portuguese officers are among the local forces, and one of them is an administrator, Captain Fidalgo, a retired Army officer, aged 64. The other is Lieutenant Falcao, a police officer, and between them they are reputed to be continuing a minor resistance movement. Captain Romba, the chief of police, said here yesterday that they had carried out a number of small skirmishes. They had returned to Selvasa, the administrative centre occupied early last week, and had inflicted several casualties among the Indian terrorists before withdrawing into the jungle again. Later the had reappeared at Canoel, a small village occupied by communist terrorists of the Goan People's Party, and had overpowered and arrested their leader, a woman.

This is all very romantic and is enjoyed by Goans gossiping over their cashew nuts and gin. If the Indian authorities can control the various groups of demonstrators, it is likely to stay that way.

Times of India, 1st June 1954:

New Delhi, July 31.: The Government of India today warned the Portuguese government that if the Portuguese authorities in Goa used any force against "peaceful and non-violent Satyagrahis" (sic!) as they have threatened to do, there will be incalculable repercussions among the people of India as a whole, including the people of Goa.




From Our Special Correspondent

Panjim, Goa, Aug. 13: At dawn to-day about 6,000 people, many of them barefooted, walked in pilgrimage to the Church of the Good Jesus in Old Goa to pray to St. Francis Xavier to intercede for them and save Goa from India's aggression and designs.

The monsoon was blowing strongly and the rain came down in sheets, but nobody along the six-mile route seemed to be aware of it. Thousands of black umbrellas bobbed under the palm trees, and beneath them the pilgrims sang aves, told their beads or read their missals.

They were of all classes; among them were well-to-do businessmen, who perhaps for the first time had left their shiny American cars behind, housewives, clerks, peasants, and fishermen. They were all dressed in their Sunday best in spite of the churned-up red laterite mud, and the colours were brilliant—American nylon, Benares saris, and several layers of scarlet petticoats.

It was an amazing demonstration of piety and simple faith, and was apparently unorganized. For the most part they walked in family groups, mother carrying their sleeping babies and fathers shepherding their daughters in confirmation dresses. There were few priests, and more men than are usually seen on such occasions.


A young, educated Goan tried to explain to your Correspondent last night why he wanted his little country to stay as it is. At first the usual political phrases came easily—self-determination, national identity, and the like. From the text books he slipped into history, into ancient dimness occasionally lit by extraordinary men such as Vasco da Gama and Albuquerque. Then the sophistication acquired in Bombay finally melted away, and he said: "If you want to understand Goa, you must come with us to St. Francis to-morrow."

It is still difficult for Englishmen who have been mystified by the faith of European peoples such as the Italians and the Irish to understand fully this eastern fervour. It is something outside their experience, and of that of the English-educated Indian leaders on the other side of the frontier. But it is none the less real.

Inside the church was St. Francis Xavier himself, not just a name in the calendar of saints, or a statue, or a picture, but his body which is said to have been miraculously preserved. The casket had been placed on the high altar for all to see, and those who crowded to the altar rail could see his face, tiny but composed, through the glass window in the casket. Behind it reared the rich golden altar. This was the very centre of an intensely personal faith, and perhaps of Goan resistance. Many pilgrims walked in casually, as if meeting an old friend; others crawled on their knees through puddles from a thousand dripping umbrellas, and many went to confession. A humility of priests sat in open confessional boxes, each with a grille on both sides, seemingly listening simultaneously to two people.


Outside in the wet courtyard people spoke of other occasions, when the saint had interceded for Goa, and of apparitions which peasants claim to have seen recently, and of other manifestations of supernatural reassurance, such as the apparently miraculous appearance of strands of the saintly hair in family missals. It was still very difficult to understand, but certainly it will be a massive defence against the "moral persuasion" of Indian "Satyagrahis" when they approach the frontier on Sunday.

When these Indians reach the frontier on that day, they will apparently be asked only to show their entry permits and there will be little to stop them from going forward. For the first few miles there will be nothing to delay them except the heat. Though the monsoon is still blowing, the sun often breaks through the cloud cover, and it is hot and sticky. The demonstrators will be very hot and stickier by the time they reach the second line of defence.

This will be manned by reserve policemen volunteers who have come forward to defend their little country. It is understood that they will be armed with only batons and they will deal with the crowd as policemen anywhere deal with unruly mobs.

It is likely that the demonstrators will break through this second line, and if they do they will soon find that the Portuguese Army is prepared. Good wireless communications have been established. Reserves could soon be called up.


It can be seen that the Portuguese are willing to play the game up to a point; foreign observers are beginning to realize that General Guedes, the Governor-General, is a man with a sense of humour. But behind these three defence lines is a citadel that thousands of peasants obviously believe will never fall. It is personified by St. Francis Xavier, and the many pilgrims believe he will intercede for them.




Lisbon, Aug. 12: According to a recent message from Goa to the Portuguese news agency ANI, the surrender of Portuguese forces under the command of Lieutenant Falcao to the "volunteers" invading the Nagar Aveli enclave has been announced by the Indian wireless.

This is not confirmed in Goa, and latest reports from Portuguese sources to reach Goa say that resistance continues. The Portuguese forces are pursuing guerilla tactics.

The same news agency reports the arrival at Mormugoa from Karachi fo the Portuguese gunboat Bartholomeo Dias. A special correspondent of the Portuguese newspaper Diario Popular in Diu reports that the town is preparing for a siege and that it has supplies for two years.

The Portuguese Foreign Ministry announced to-day that the Pakistan Government had decided to open a legation in Lisbon. The Portuguese and Pakistan Governments agreed to and exchange of diplomatic missions in 1949, and Portugal opened a legation in Karachi in 1952 and appointed as Minister-Plenipotentiary Dr. Antonio Jose Alves. It is hoped, says the Ministry, that the opening of the Pakistan legation in Portugal will strengthen still further the friendly relations between the two countries.

The Foreign Ministry says that it is noticed with appreciation that Portugal's action in regard to Portuguese India continues to receive the approval and support of the international community, especially that of the Latin-American countries, particularly Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela. The Chilean Government has instructed its representative in Delhi to inform the Indian Government that Chile views with serious apprehension the incidents that have occurred in the Portuguese territories and the tense relations between the Portuguese and Indian Governments, and hopes that no effort will be spared to use all pacific means to avoid new incidents and the dangerous situation which would arise from them.



Sir, —Your Special Correspondent's brilliant dispatches from Goa, conveying the warmth and life of this devout and interesting people, awakened warm and vivid memories in one who had seen something of the Goans in India, while studying India on the eve of Independence, from the aspect of vast human need and suffering. The name Goa in the headlines has brought back immediate pictures: a hospital in the Zenana (women's sequestered quarters) of an Indian princely state, which no male doctor might enter, where a young Goan woman doctor in charge was bringing to Indian women and their babies a mercy that only those who have studied the conditions of Indian women can realize—a symbol, too, of that first need of which I was told everywhere, in the Indian villages—doctors, women doctors especially for the purdah women, midwives, then teachers, schools; a convent orphanage in Bombay, where, amid prevailing Indian sadness and hot weather tension—with police posts alert between Hindu and Mohamedan quarters—a garden was lit by the gaiety of little Goan girls playing, some of whom would later become nurses. A nun sepaking with love of all her pupils praised the Goan children especially as "great workers and wonderfully loyal."

I remembered too that Albuquerque in 1510 suppressed suttee in the Portuguese territories of Goa—I think the first suppressor. In and about Bombay, brought from Portuguese possession to England by Catherine of Braganza and so back to modern India, the blue-and-white, highly decorated Portuguese churches, packed on Sundays with devout Goan congregations, and northward, the ruined spires of the cathedral and churches of Bassein, where for two centuries the Portuguese held their "Court of the North," stand as true symbols of the difference of this four-and-a-half centuries old race, with its Portuguese names and blood, its own living obvious racial characteristics and ways of living, and, over all, its devout Christianity. The Goan woman doctor whom I saw serving India was, like the Christian Anglo-Indians who have given so many nurses to India, free of the caste, religious and sex chains which, in spite of the noble achievements of the few in the vast field, have held back Indian medical and social services. To Christianity nothing and no one was untouchable.

Yours, c.

Pamela Hinkson
Hatch End, Middlesex.



Sir, —It seems that in the imbroglio of Goa the Indians are peacefully aggressive while the Portuguese are aggressively peaceful.

Yours sincerely,

Shafaat Rasool
10, Jefferson Avenue, Bournemouth.



Sir,—Public opinion in England appears to regard the present situation between the Indian Union and its Portuguese-governed enclaves as the result of some inconsistency on the part of the Prime Minister of India. I submit that this is not the case.

A great body of opinion in India, right, left, and centre, has been demanding "action" about Goa. India has an extremely vocal free Press and a Parliament which never hesitates in expressing its views. Against this volume of liberally displayed feeling the Prime Minister has counselled moderation, caution, and peace at all times in the past eight years. He has never threatened violence.

Reports, chiefly from Lisbon, of movements of Indian troops and tanks have again and again proved false. The Prime Minister has never deviated from his fixed principle that justice and right will prevail without violence. The right of self-defence was admitted even by the most rigid upholder of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. But apart from self-defence, no element of violent action is admitted in the philosophy which animates the Government of India. It is unjust to represent the events which have taken place on the frontier of Goa as being other than a voluntary offering, by persons who felt it necessary, of their own bodies and blood in a cause felt to be national. It is unjust to represent the Prime Minister of India as being other than devoted to peace at home and abroad, now and always.

Our grief at the loss of life that has taken place, our compassion for the surviving sufferers, should not lead anybody to suppose that the principles upon which the Government of India was founded are in peril.

Yours &c.,

High Commissioner for India,
India House, Aldwych, W.C. 2.


Sir, —Miss Pandit is disturbed that her brother, Mr. Nehru, the Primes Minister of India, should be thought to be inconsistent. But what does she expect? Nehru is rightly regarded as the foremost proponent of co-exisence, for which he is justly honoured. But surely Miss Pandit must realize that Indian action over Goa makes mockery of Nehru's principles?

Even if these invasions are a spontaneous expression of public opinion (Indian or Goan?) Nehru is responsible as Indian Prime Minister for seeing that such breaches of international etiquette do not occur. His own police are often compelled to fire on peaceful demonstrators; he must therefore have known that Indians might be killed in the march on Goa, but he did nothing to prevent it, either by the use of troops now (he might have ringed the frontier) or words earlier. It is not fair to Nehru to hint, as his sister does, that a man with his immense prestige inside and outside India could not have prevented these unfortunate occurrences. Now that the mobs have been aroused, it is of course difficult for him to quieten them.

India can expect British and other support in any complaints she cares to make about oppression in Goa, so long as we are allowed to verify it ourselves, and so long as "non-violent" mobs are not permitted to provoke hostilities. But in a policy of conquest Nehru walks alone. What is more, he must choose between his reputation and Goa. He cannot have both.

Yours faithfully,

Foxhome, Willow Grove, Chislehurst, Kent.
Extracts from the Times, London, and other papers, on the Goan Question and India's Rape of Goa, 1961. Transcribed for the public record by Lúcio Mascarenhas, Goan Patriot, from the news-clipping collection of the Patriot, Senhor Agnelo Gracias.
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