6 Oct 04:03 2008
A passage to Goa: a generation and more later... the Portuguese view
Goanet Reader <goanetreader@...>
2008-10-06 02:03:43 GMT
2008-10-06 02:03:43 GMT
A passage to Goa: a generation and more later... This is a translation of an article "Passagem para a India" that was published on the magazine section of O Expresso of December 8, 2001. It was translated by Gabriel Figueiredo gdefigueiredo <at> yahoo.com.au, and reproduced here with his permission. It tells the story from a Portuguese perspective ... --- Commencing at 0:00 hours of December 18, 1961, the invasion of Goa, Damão and Diu lasted 36 hours. The disproportion was excessive, with the Indian forces being 13 times larger than the Portuguese garrison. The "total sacrifice" requested by Salazar would have been a tragedy. This was the understanding of General Vassalo e Silva, the last governor of a 451-year history, when he surrendered. Carlos Azaredo was one of the military personnel who took part in the events. 40 years later, the general was the guide of O Expresso in a visit to the last years of India Portuguesa. --- Carlos Azaredo disembarked for the first time in Goa, on September 17, 1954. An ensign of the Cavalry, 23 years old, he volunteered to defend the so-called "Estado da India Portuguesa" (State of Portuguese India), against a quite probable invasion by the powerful Union of India. "We left Lisbon on board the 'Serpa Pino'; I was the only Cavalry officer on board". Born in a family with a firm monarchical tradition in the district of Baião, he joined the Escola do Exército (Military School) in 1948, against the wishes of his father who would have liked his first-born to study Engineering. He then joined the Escola Prática de Cavalaria (Cavalry Training School) at Torres Novas, and the Regimento de Cavalaria No 6 (Cavalry Regiment no 6) at Porto, "my first regiment". The journey by ship is slow and uneventful. "We passed the Suez Canal and the British were still in Aden". He disembarked at Mormugão, the most important port of Goa conquered by Afonso de Albuquerque on 25 November 1510. The neighbouring immense Union of India is a volcano of nationalistic fervour. Independent of England since 1947, even before independence already its principal directors had proclaimed the integration of the territories of Estado Portuguêsda India: Goa, Damão andiu D. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the great Indian nation, would be the first to declare that Goa could not remain separate. This would be a political fixation of the prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who in 1950, formally reclaimed the territories administered by Portugal, proposing the opening of negotiations. The government presided by Oliveira Salazar refuses, with the argument that Goa and other territories form part of the whole nation [of Portugal]. In Goa, Damão and Diu, the manifestations of civil disobedience or in favour of right to autonomy have prison, deportation or censorship as a reply. Many Goans, be they Catholics or Hindus, are compelled to exile. In the dialogue of the deaf, a new tactic is followed: that of pressure, through economic blockades and recourse to the famous "satyagrahis", who peacefully invade Portuguese territories. Literally signifying the "force of truth", the "satyagrahis" were created by Gandhi and played a decisive role in its strategy of non-violent resistance. Successive waves of these "satyagrahis" fringed by military personnel invade the Portuguese enclaves of Dadrá and Nagar-Aveli, near Damão, in 1954. The first one falls on the 22nd July, the second one eleven days after. In the confrontations in Dadrá, two Portuguese police officers are killed. "Died for the Motherland", according to the inscription on a headstone, which is still maintained in a garden of one of the forts in Damão. Ready to defend the dear jewel of the empire, Salazar responds with diplomatic and military plans. On the day immediately following its admission to the United Nations, Portugal appeals to International Tribunal of Justice (in The Hague) against the annexation of the two enclaves. And he strengthens the defence of India (Portuguesa), resorting to volunteers. Perceptible to the vehement appeal to defend the Motherland, the ensign1 Azaredo volunteers. In all, three more army battalions arrive in Goa. The governor, General Benard Guedes, has 12,000 troops at his disposal in the three territories. Goa was not totally unknown to young Azaredo -- at least at the level of attachment and family connections. Born in 4th October 1930, at Marco de Canavezes, Carlos Manuel de Azaredo Pinto Melo e Leme belongs to the Távora familythrough maternal links, the same family that the Marquês de Pombal had taken on as a love rival. Francisco de Assis Távora, the last marquês with that title, was the 45th viceroy ofIndia (1750/54). No wonder, then, that the family had become one of the largest proprietors of the colony. Once numerous, rich and influential, the Noronha e Távora thatAzaredo met in Goa are no longer what they were. D. Augusto is the head of the family. "He was the first cousin of my grandfather. He married a Goan and stayed on to take care of the family property -- each time smaller, it is said". D. Augusto, the 90 year-old cousin, is not at home. A major stroke forced him to be hospitalised. A metallic plaque with the inscription: D. Augusto de Noronha e Távora, better known as "Lobé", marks the residence in an ordinary building in a chaotic road in Panaji. The general is received by one of his daughters, Margarida. On a wall is a family tree, starting from D. Lourenço Carlos Bernardo de Noronha and his link with D. Veridiana Amália Henriques da Cunha Lobato de Faria. "Our cousins from Porto sent it to us", explains Margarida. On a table, an ashtray of the Futebol Clube do Porto, the latter of which Lobé was a relentless supporter. "The last time I saw him was during President Mario Soares' visit, in 1992; he was at the reception of the hotel, wearing a cap of FCPorto". The last of the Távoras in Goa was in room no. 10 of the hospital at Bambolim. With tubes and a drip, D. Augusto is not aware of his circumstances, let alone recognise cousin Carlos. A nurse even tries to get old Lobé out of his torpor, but without success. In the silence of the room, one feels it is torpor of death. The general takes his leave with a gentle caressing of the hand and an inaudible goodbye. Having arrived in Goa, the ensign is given the command of a detachment at Perném, near the river Tiracol, which borders the Union of India. His mission is to control the northern frontier, with a platoon of thirty personnel -- 27 privates and 3 sergeants. "We set up in conical canvas tents, where we spent the whole of the monsoon". The most identifiable frontier post is Tiracol, at the northern margin of the river, protected by a fort built in 1746. In August 1954, some time before the arrival of Azaredo, the satyagrahis had taken possession of the fort and hoisted the Indian tricolour until it was regained by a police force. The subsequent peace reduces the border control to little more than a routine job. "In my time, nothing happened. We would go out of Perném, catch a customs launch and come down the river Tiracol until the fort. It was a very beautiful trip". The Tiracol fort, made of laterite blocks, has been transformed into a pleasant hotel, which welcomes above all tourists from Goa. The bridge is quite far, which necessitates taking a "ferry-boat" near Querim, which takes 10 minutes to make the journey between the two riverbanks. The view towards the Querim beach, to the south, is fantastic. The interior of the small fortress is very well preserved. The façade of the Jesuit chapel, of 1822, is whitewashed and preserves statues of the three saints: the martyr Sebastian, the inevitable Francis Xavier and Anthony of Lisboa, the patron saint. The old fort of Terekhol (as is written in Konkani, the language most prevalent in Goa), a leading lookout facing the state of Maharashtra, is one of the best examples of the Portuguese military architecture. The commission in Perném lasts six months. A commission at Maulinguem follows, in the northeastern frontier, as a shooting-range officer. "I was there for three months. At the time, I made a report in which it was stated that 60% of the ammunition was unused". The rifles were Lee-Enfield, five shots, British-made, 1917 model. "The humidity would penetrate the cartridge-belts and the rifle-barrels had to be unblocked with a rod". For someone who had volunteered for a possible war, the inactivity is deceptive. "As nothing was happening, I requested a passage to the home country". Minister Santos Costa rejects the request. "The dispatch only stated 'when an ensign of the Cavalry volunteers, it is for everything. Bear with it!' And bear it I did, what a panacea!" The rest of the commission is spent at the Mapuça squadron, at an old school converted to quarters. He shares a house in the centre of the city with another officer. "Each one had a batman and the cook was common -- but all were Africans. At this time there were soldiers from Landim (a place on the banks of the Zambesi), in Mozambique (of the Vátua tribe of the famous Gunguhnana) stationed in Goa". The preferred entertainment is to go to the cinema at night, to watch Indian films. "I was always attacked by huge bugs. When I reached home, I used to undress, enter the house naked and leave the infested clothes at the door to be washed. Thus was the life at Mapuça". Mapusa is today the third city of the State of Goa -- next to Panaji and Margão. The market is very lively and there are abundant cinema halls. A marble slab records that it was the general Craveiro lopes who, in 1933, inaugurated the Liceu Municipal D. Francisco d'Almeida. The school became quarters and is now converted back into a school. It is called St. Mary School, very old and run by Carmelite nuns. The sentry boxes no longer exist. "The sentries were Landins. Perfect statues, they were the best soldiers that I've seen". The school is closed -- it is the Diwali holidays, or the festival of lights, which mark the Hindu New Year. At the door, various cars of a driving school were parked, having a Brahmanic cross (which inspired the Nazi swastika) on their logo. In September 1955, Prime Minister Nehru orders to put an end to the movements of the satyagrahis. The decision is taken after the excursion of 15th August, the anniversary of Indian independence. On this bloodstained day, three thousand pacifists penetrated into Goa, Damão and Di. "The Portuguese police and military forces opened fire against the satyagrahi without warning and in various places," writes P.N. Khera (in "Operation Vijay. The liberation of Goa and Other Portuguese Colonies in India"). Estimate: 22 dead and 225 wounded. Non-violence is put on hold, which forces New Delhi to change the strategy. On one side, Nehru tightens the economic siege of Goa, now totally dependent on imports. On the other hand, he abandons the pacifism preached by Gandhi and progresses to a military solution. In February 1956, after 18 months of a volunteer commission in Goa, Carlos Azaredo returns to Portugal. Already a lieutenant, he gets married and seriously dedicates himself to horsemanship. At the turn of the decade, the anti-colonialistic wave is growing bigger and is on the verge of reaching the Portuguese territories in Africa: Angola and Guiné, as also Mozambique. Lisbon re-evaluates the political situation. Priority is to Africa -- even because it is known, with a certain knowledge, that Goa is militarily indefensible, as Salazar would otherwise have already known. The verdict of the international Tribunal at The Hague is known in April 1960. It is an ambiguous pronouncement, which permits Lisbon and Delhi to claim victory. On one side, Portuguese sovereignty on the enclaves of Dadrá and Nagar Aveli is recognised; on the other hand, India has the right to obstruct the passage of foreigners through its territory. At the end of the year, the under-secretary of the Army Staff1 makes a survey visit to India (Portuguesa). Pragmatic and realistic, the Lt-Col Costa Gomes proposes a drastic reduction in the military grouping. Salazar agrees. In a few months the garrison changes from 12,000 men to around 3,500. The navy, which had come to consist of two ships, is now reduced to the ageing "Afonso de Albuquerque", retaining the three small customs launches to attend to the three territories and to the island of Angediva. As to the Air Force, it continued to be non-existent. In January 1961, quite unexpectedly, Azaredo and India cross each other for a second time. Promoted to a captain, he returns to Goa for a new commission -- no longer as a volunteer. "At this stage, I was already married, so that I took along my wife Lúcia and our three children-- a boy and two girls". This time, he travels on board the "Timor". The route is the same, but the differences are clear. "At Port Said, the statue of Ferdinand Lesseps, the constructor of the Suez Canal, had been knocked down; the British military were no longer at Aden". One of the rare officers with Goan experience, Azaredo stays in the capital, in charge of the Police of the Estado da India. The headquarters are at the centre of Panjim, in the Largo das Sete Janelas. The commander is also a captain of the Cavalry, Joaquim Pinto Brás. "I started off as a provisional second commander; then, I went on to command the sections of Procedures, Traffic, Municipal Police, Military Training and Foreign Service --I hope I havem't forgotten any other." The effective forces are around five hundred police personnel, European and Goan. The eastern and southern frontier "was my responsibility. I had to visit and inspect the posts -- which, at this time, were dedicated mainly to combat terrorism". The so-called subversive war is at its peak: between 1955 and 1959, the Army Staff records 179 assaults, 152 sabotages and a hundred other unsuccessful attempts -- that would result in the deaths of 30 Portuguese and 73 Indians. The Goa State Police headquarters are situated in the very same headquarters in Panaji. The Portuguese coat-of-arms had been erased from the door, maintaining only the inscription containing the date of its construction: 1832. The exterior -- painted in a bold yellow -- was the target of a restoration project, subsidised by the Fundação Oriente. The receptionist is a woman-police officer, in brown uniform and wearing a black beret pulled backwards, to allow a "bindi", the red mark that the Hindus wear between the eyebrows, to be visible. At the front stands only one sentry, with a moustache, a rifle and bayonet. Cars and jeeps, police and civilians come and go. The old alarm bell, made of the same bronze that was used for the cannons, reminds that the empire was built on a very odd association of clergymen and the military. Polished but silent, there were times when it sounded furiously, against fire or attacks by Moslems and Maharajas. The interior parade is practically unaltered. The same mango trees, gigantic and majestic. The unmistakable crows, bluish-black and with a nasal caw. Even the lawn, used for education and training, seems to preserve the same football goal posts of 40 years ago. The only difference is a roof to protect vehicles from sun and rain, and the slender King Ashoka pillar. Contrary to the headquarters, the ample square in front is unrecognisable. Starting with the name, which has changed from Sete Janelas to Azad Maidan (field of independence). The huge statue of Vasco da Gama, in bronze, has been removed to the museum at Old Goa. In its place a monument -- in an ugly combination of blue, white, black and gold - has been erected, containing the mortal remains of Tristão de Braganza Cunha. Died in 1958, he was the founder of the Goa Congress Committee, the first of the various Goan nationalistic organisations, among which the radical Azad Gomantak Dal was prominent. In a corner of the square there is another memorial in honour of "the martyrs in the fight for liberty and colonialism in India". Dated 1973, it was financed by the Goan Freedom Fighters Association, which records the name of 67 combatants inscribed on stone -- in English and in Hindi, the official national language. Some were native Goans, others natives of other parts of India -- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and even Bangladesh. Between the two monuments, school students make use of the grounds to practice cricket, the chief sport of India and Goa. The Azaredo family settles in a house close to the headquarters. "I never knew the name of the road". The landlord is a rich Goan merchant, of the shop Velho e Filhos, who supplies the troops and other clients with wine and dried cod (bacalhau). They rent the first floor, at the rear of the Medical School Hospital (Hospital Escolar). "Sometimes we witnessed macabre sights: the Muslim cadavers being washed in the mortuary before being buried facing Mecca". It is a house with a large veranda and windows with carepas -- fish scales instead of glass. The next-door tenant is a friendly doctor whose surname is Almeida, who studied in Lisbon and who, with eleven children, always has his house full. The road continues not to have a visible name, but has lost its former tranquillity and charm -- there is so much noise and fumes from buses, cars and "rickshaws". The house, however, is quite the same. At the entrance on the ground floor, was the glazed tile inscribed with the name of the very same landlord: "Velho". The descendants of the old Velho now live there, who receive the general with open arms, a cup of tea and a plate of homemade cakes. Cheerfully, Loretta Dias Velho makes it a point to show everything to the unexpected visitor: dining room, bedrooms, kitchen and the bathroom. As in all Christian homes in Goa, there is no shortage of religious motifs, including the statue of Our Lady of Fátima and a photograph of Pope John Paul II. A china plate from Alcobaça guarantees that "with three letters only one can write the word Mum". Built in 1952, the house always had military tenants -- Portuguese first, Indian later. "We only managed to get it back in 1991". Azaredo states "after the invasion, they attacked it and threw practically everything out of the window. I was left with nothing". In the adjoining apartment Dr. Almeida continues living. Romualdo António de Jesus Almeida will complete ninety years. Bed-ridden, he receives his former neighbour with a happy smile. All his eleven children "still live". Three are triplets, but memory fails and he can only mention two: Mário and Arnaldo. On a wall proudly hangs the diploma of Medicine. Dated 1936. On the 30th July, the Panjim Police takes another prisoner, Ravindra Kelecar, one of the many "Freedom Fighters". "I was the last Goan to be imprisoned by the Portuguese". Ravindra would have been one of the very rare Hindus of his generation to attend the Liceu Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque. "There was a sort of 'apartheid' between the Portuguese and the Hindus", he reveals. Reason why these "never had a good impression" of the other. The course of his life is marked by an unforgettable date: 18 June 1948, when Ram Manohar Lohia, the Indian socialist leader, went to Margão to hold a rally. "Some six or seven hundred people gathered to listen to him. One could never imagine that it would be possible to gather so many people". The police ended up obstructing the session, but the message got through: "Without struggle, Goans will never be able to liberate their country". Ravindra took the message to heart. The non-violence theorised by Gandhi and practiced by the "satyagrahis" wasn't the only tactic used. "I went about with bombs, revolvers and all", recollects Ravindra. When requested to divulge the exact details, he stops with an enigmatic "they were unimportant things, dictate d by youth and enthusiasm." Things he does not repent, even because, he highlights "I did not kill anyone." Ravindra Kelecar, 76 years old, receives us in his house, near Mardol. Member of the Brahmin caste, he is a respected intellectual. He dresses up in a Hindu suit made of fine cotton, white, reaching to his feet; the few hairs, left long and white, are pushed backwards; his small and vivid eyes peer behind thick lenses. He offers us hot tea, whilst apologising for his Portuguese -- which is surprisingly excellent. Ravindra and Azaredo do not recognise each other -- in spite of the former being held prisoner in the headquarters of the latter. The Goan remembers that, at the time of his detention, "the Police commandant was Pinto Brás". Insisted by the Portuguese, he remembers, however, that he was "well treated". "The problem", he adds, "was that I was never questioned, nor tried, let alone being condemned". Isolated in a cell, the family used to visit him on Saturdays. "One day, they did not allow me to receive any visits. I wrote to Pinto Brás in protest, who sent a reply that he did not know why I was imprisoned -- and there I was for three months! Four hours later, a corporal set me free". An unusual ending to an arbitrary imprisonment. Since 1962, he devoted himself to winning autonomy for Goa. A battle that lasted five years and which "was worth being imprisoned another 26 times". Disappointed and retired from politics, he wrote his memoirs, which unfortunately have not been translated into English. In his final years, he discovered Fernando Pessoa and his "Livro de Desassossego" (Book of Restlessness), "one of the saddest and profound books in the literary world." The monsoon of 1961, which unleashes itself between May and September, is not quite placid. A typhoon sweeps the whole southern coast, between Margão and Canacona. General Vassalo e Silva is the head of the government of Goa, since 1958. Doing justice to his qualifications as an engineer, the governor devotes himself to rebuilding the poor local residences. He calls Azaredo to the Palácio do Idalcão (Adil Khan Palace), which serves as the seat of government. "He requested me to make an inventory of the damage. I don't know how he remembered me -- it is a myster -- I visited the whole of the affected region", advised by an engineering officer, experienced in construction and works. "I handed in the report in December. It gave a survey of the damage and the material required: bricks, beams, tiles, galvanised sheets". The collaboration between the Governor-General and the Captain becomes closer. The former appreciates the initiative of the latter, his earnestness and promptness. Azaredo, in his turn, values the seriousness of the General, and his passion for Goa and the Goans. At the Idalcão, near river Mandovi, a friendship that would last a lifetime is born. The Idalcão is older than the Portuguese conquest. The former palace of the Adil Khan, the Muslim ruler defeated by Albuquerque, was converted into an official residence of the Viceroys in 1759. The palace continues to be the seat of power [at the time this article was published]. The Chief Minister -- a sort of a Prime Minister of Goa -- works there. Manohar Parrikar belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the same party that governs in New Delhi and which many accuse of being Hindu fundamentalist. In Goa, it is in power going in its second year, thanks to a conglomerate parliamentary unity The age-old building is in need of complete restoration -- externally and internally. The noble old hall is a pallid shadow of what it was. The portraits of the Governors and Viceroys have gone to the Museum. In their place, photographs, oils or pictures of high Indian dignitaries hang: the famous Maharaja Shivaji, the ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, her son Rajiv, and others. Of the long table, the plush carpets, the rich candlesticks and porcelain -- there is no sign of them. The skylight, which formerly used to light up the ample hall, no longer allows a single ray of sunlight to pass through. The "maples" of the waiting room are dirty and worn out with overuse; on the white walls, hang a clock (ahead by 10 minutes) and paper calendar. Outside, on the other side of the road, is the Flagstaff of Sovereignty. The Portuguese flag used to flutter at its summit for centuries. Now, it is the Indian tricolour, first hoisted on the 19th December 1961 that flutters. In the first days of October, New Delhi is the platform for a seminar on the Portuguese colonies. The surgeon P. D. Gaitonde, an influential Goan politician who was imprisoned in Portugal, initiated the idea. Nehru is the host for liberation movement of Angola, Mozambique, Guiné and Cabo Verde, also of Goa. The Indian leader inquires what sort of assistance is most required: Diplomatic? Financial? Miltary? The reply is unanimous: terminate colonialism in his own country, by liberating Goa, Damão and Diu. Nehru commits himself: "Id on't doubt that Goa will be free shortly". Without losing time, Nehru requests J. N. Chauduri for a scrutiny of the military situation in Goa. Perceptibly at the same time, the military commandant of Goa returns to Panjim. The brigadier António Leitão, had been on a two-month holiday in Portugal, and made use of it to try to obtain reinforcements: armament and ammunition, transporters, communication equipment. The same (request) was being made, unsuccessfully, by Vassalo e Silva himself. Most of the armament has been superseded, even obsolete. There are those who don't have anything better than the Kropatcheq rifle, dating prior to the First World War! "If it wasn't so tense, the situation would have been quite comic", accepts Azaredo. "The police vehicles were no longer armoured at the bottom. Rotten, the iron sheets would be replaced with thick planks of wood used to transport bacalhau (dried cod)". As if this wasn't enough, the military presence was continuing to thin out. First, to assist Luanda (capital of Angola), where a rebellion would break out in February, with Salazar decreeing "To Angola and in force!"; then to Timor, where problems also arose. The brigadier presents himself dolefully to the Ministry of Defence. Since April -- following the failed coup d'etat of General Botelho Moniz -- the minister is Salazar himself, who adds this to his Presidential duties. "But the Toninho da Calçad (Salazar's nickname?) did not receive him. To Salazar, there was no war in India, to which there was no need for reinforcements". With a wave of the hand, there is only one solution to the military command: improve on the Plano Sentinela (Sentry Plan). It is a plan of resistance to any foreseen aggression. The strategy progresses to concentrate forces in the peninsula of Mormugão, and there, to defend at all costs. "It was a totally unrealistic and unachievable plan, which was quite incomplete", verifies Azaredo. "It was based on exchange of ground with time. But, for this purpose, portable communication equipment was necessary". There was none available. In the meanwhile, the "Freedom Fighters" continue to do their bit. "To the contrary to what is being said, the most evolved guerilla warfare which our Armed Forces encountered was in Goa. I know what I'm talking about, because I also fought in Angola and in Guiné. In 1961 alone, until December, around 80 policemen died". Azaredo however, advises: "The major part of the terrorists of Azad Gomantak Dal were not Goans. Many had fought in the British Army, under General Montgomery, against the Germans. And the majority of the satyagrahis were not peasants and poor rural people, hungry in search for something to eat". The Eastern frontier is the easiest for penetration. Delimited by the range of the Western Ghats, it is zone of high contours, and the means available to the police are ill suited to the terrain. During the monarchy, horses had taken care of such situations. Why not make use of the experience? "In November, we went to Pakistan to buy horses". A group of officers, accompanied by a veterinary doctor, journey to Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Peshawar. The idea is to purchase thirty mounts, to equip a platoon in Valpoi. "The British had selected a fantastic pure-blooded breed. We even made a purchase, but it was too late!". On the 17th of November, an incident takes place on the island of Angediva, South of Goa. The Portuguese garrison opens fire on the passenger ship "Sabarmati". An enchanting place, which had received the ships of Vasco da Gama on his first voyage to India, Angediva would come into history as the famous "isle of love" sung by Camões in "Os Lusiadas". Now the luxuriant isle has been transformed into an eager pretext for military intervention. As one reads in the introduction to the Indian Military report, "the tension exploded" at Angediva "and India decided to liberate the territories by force". New Delhi orders the Army Staff1 to finalise the plan of attack. The liberation of Goa from colonialism is a trump card capable of alleviating pressure on Nehru, who had serious problems on his hands with China in Tibet and Pakistan in Kashmir. The military option is particularly cherished by the Defence Minister, Krishna Menon, a radical who is preparing to contest elections in his constituency. "Operation Vijay" is the code name given to the plan of liberation of Goa, Damão and Diu. Of the Army, the 17th Division and the 50th Paratroop Brigade are mobilised, among others. The naval resources include the aircraft carrier "Vikrant", three frigates, two cruisers many other torpedo boats and a submarine. We are certainly unaware of the air support used, but it is known that the aircraft carrier had 21 aircraft consisting of fighters (Hunter, Vampire, Mystere) and bombers (Liberators and Canberra). The foreseen strategy of New Delhi is that the combat should last, at a maximum, three days -- meanwhile Lisbon would ask Vassalo e Silva to resist for a minimum of eight days. The Commander-in-Chief of "Operation Vijay" is Major-General Chaudhuri, whereas another General K. P. Kandeth directs operations in Goa. The command of the Air Force is given to a Goan, Vice-Marshal Pinto do Rosário. Another Goan is Francis Rodrigues, 28 years old, who had attended the Military Academy North of Delhi, and accompanied the operation, although he did not participate in it. A gentleman of a remarkable background, Rodrigues would attain generalship, having held the post of Chief of Staff of the Army between 1990 and 1993 - the highest post in the Indian military hierarchy. Originating from a Catholic family "that provided five priests but only one general", he never learnt Portuguese. The family, like many others had retreated to Bombay. "My father was a journalist, who wrote some articles against the Portuguese and was denied entry into Goa. At this time, I was only nine years old". The general only came to settle in Goa when he retired, aged 60. The ex-Chief of Staff of the Indian Army receives us at his residence, in Alto de Porvorim. The two generals, both retired, wish each other with courtesy and respect. The Portuguese is from the Cavalry, the Indian from Artillery. The dialogue is in English. Azaredo, always a gentleman, has words of praise for the behaviour of Indian Armed Forces during the invasion. Rodrigues prefers to speak of liberation and, surprised by the praise, gives a hearty laugh, with a mixture of satisfaction and pride. "Really, the Indian Army is a good Army". A conceited Francis Rodrigues prefers to talk of himself and his achievements, not forgetting his meetings with Pope John Paul II and Colin Powell. At leave-taking, a photograph is taken of the enemies of forty years ago. December arrives with only one doubt: the date of the invasion. The preparations are dramatic. On the 12th, women and children (of the military personnel) are evacuated. The operation is not approved by Lisbon, being against the national interest, but Vassalo e Silva does not forgo the need to look after the safety of the families of his men. Having a capacity of carrying 105 passengers, the ship "India" departs Mormugão with 650. Having declared a state of emergency, on the 14th the Governor-General receives a radio message from Salazar. It is a text intended for the History of the Empire. "I advise and expect", writes Salazar, a "total sacrifice", "the only way by which we can maintain the height of our traditions and provide the greatest service to the future of the Nation". The dictator does not want the least doubt to exist: "I do not foresee the possibility of any truce, nor Portuguese prisoners, as there will not be any ships surrendered, since I feel that there can only be victorious soldiers and sailors or those killed in battle". The message largely surpasses the previous command dispatch of the governor, according to which resistance should be "conducted until all ammunition and provisions are exhausted". With the end in sight, Salazar demands destruction and prepares for a turn of the page. Orders are received from the Ministry for Overseas Affairs to transfer the relics of St. Francis Xavier to Lisbon. Another message recommends the destruction of the varied non-military heritage, including the palace. Vassalo refuses to comply with either of the orders, which Azaredo attributes "to the criminal unscrupulousness and the insanity of Salazar, who preferred the politics of a country in flames -- as had happened months before, in São João Baptista de Ajudá. "No! I cannot destroy the evidence of our greatness in the Orient", he told me, when he ordered me to remove the petrol containers which were near the Idalcão", says Azaredo. On the 17th December, the territories of Goa, Damão and Diu are surrounded by the members of the Indian armed forces. The imbalance, of men and resources, is shocking. A comparison made by Col. Carlos Morais ("A Queda da India Portuguesa- Crónica da Invasão e do Cativeiro" - "The fall of Portuguese India -- A Chronicle of the Invasion and Captivity") is eloquent: on the Indian side, "a total of 45,000 men plus 25,000 reservists, using combat vehicles of the latest model, artillery, air-transported troops, amphibious units, technical support, modern aviation, etc"; on the Portuguese side, "around 3,500 men ill-equipped with arms and ammunition, without armoured cars or anti-tank weapons, no air support, and practically without any artillery". Knowing the great advantage and confident in the efficiency of his aircraft, Vice-Marshall Pinto do Rosário bets he would have a drink of Portuguese beer in the main market of Panjim on the day following the attack. The bet is partially won, as P. N. Khera notes "When they reached the market, all the shops were closed and there wasn't a single bottle of beer available". In the morning, Azaredo is called to the governor, who nominates him as the coordinating officer of the Security Forces (Inspection Guards and Police). The rest of the day is spent at the headquarters. "I slept in a semblance of emergency mode. All of us slept. We were on alert since the 11th or 12th". Early in the night, a TAP plane lands at the airport in Dabolim, having come from Karachi. It was expected that it would bring an urgent order of the required grenades "Instalaza", destined to reinforce the poorly equipped anti-tank artillery. The boxes are opened anxiously, but no one can believe the incredible sight: sausages, instead of grenades, sent by Lisbon in the spirit of campaigning "The Soldier's Christmas"! The invasion begins in the first minutes of the 18th. From the North, South and East, it is quickly announced by All India Radio. "It must have been around 6:30am when I presented myself at the Palace". Soon after, the telecommunications centre, at Bambolim, is the target of aerial bombardment. "As there were no transmissions, the governor sent me there to find out what was happening. I went in a black Volkswagen. The centre and the generators had been attacked with bombs and rockets. They killed an ensign -- I even saw him, with brains spilling out of his head". Goa would be cut off from the exterior -- neither Lisbon, nor Damão, nor Diu. With the invasion in progress, it is up to the Commander-in-Chief1 to activate the "Plano Sentinela" (Sentry Plan). A few minutes pass after 8:00am when the Governor abandons the capital and heads towards the naval shipyards, in the Mormugão peninsula "Having been dispensed with, I went to take command of the troops forming the second line of defence". The formation goes from the isle of São Jacinto to Issoroim, cutting across the isthmus of the peninsula, selected as the last bastion of resistance. "It was 10:30am when I arrived there. In all, I would have around 500 men under my command -- troops that were coming from other positions, in retreat. We dug some trenches rapidly, which we strengthened with coconut trunks". The weapons are a little more than ridiculous: two light Lewis machine guns and ancient rifles. Ahead, the first line was composed of forces from the light Infantry Company 3. Now and then, due to lack of communications equipment, Azaredo goes by car to the Commander-in-Chief1, "some two kilometres behind". During one of these incursions, when he had reached a high position, he witnesses the combat between "Afonso de Albuquerque" and the Indian Navy -- three frigates and two torpedo boats. "Our vessel was in anchorage at Dona Paula, the other side of River Zuari. By around midday, on being targeted, it left its moorings and manoeuvred with the intention of taking to the high seas. The enemy artillery was using anti-personnel Shrapnel bombs, One could distinctively hear the explosions and see the clouds they left. One of them exploded directly above the ship", killing a cabin boy and seriously injuring the commander Cunha Aragão. The ship then "swerved 180 degrees and ran aground by the bows on Bambolim beach. I saw the crew set fire to it and disembarking directly on to the beach". The official version, maintained for years, would exalt the heroic stand of "Afonso de Albuquerque" -- to the extent of stating that it was sunk. "All tales! I state with the authority of one who directly witnessed the hostilities". At 15:00, there is a new setback. The small garrison, which would remain in Panjim, gives itself up without further ado. Having attained the other side of River Mandovi, "the enemy placed various battle tanks with their cannons pointing to the city, whilst the air force was circling overhead, threateningly. On the other hand, we had did not have a single piece of artillery. The older officers got together and decided to surrender". Vassalo came to know later -- "He was furious". Night falls, with the end of the war virtually planned out. Worn out, Capt. Azaredo cannot reconcile himself to sleep. "I thought countless times that, for many of us, it would be the last night". In remembering his wife and three children, somewhere on the way to Lisbon, cannot hold back tears of sadness. Then, he retreats into a prayer. "In the peace of the night, I raised my thoughts to the Creator and prepared my soul for a death." At 4:30am of the 19th, the lines of defence are inspected by the Governor. "He confirmed our weakest positions. Even then, he gave me a friendly pat on my shoulder: "Azaredo, everything is alright". He does not talk of surrendering and proceeds in the direction of the first line. The destruction of many strategic bridges is incapable of holding up the unstoppable advance of the enemy. The centres of resistance are fleeing and reduce themselves to a little more than the fort at Aguada, the island of Angediva the post at Doromarogo. The general Headquarters, set up at the shipyards, is almost constantly receiving discouraging news: defeats, casualties, surrenders, running out of ammunition, desertions. The Patriarch for the Indies, D. José Vieira Alvernaz, insists with the Governor to prevent the massacre of military and civilian personnel, and makes a desperate appeal to surrender. Vassalo e Silva evaluates the military panel. Situated at Mormugão, he is literally surrounded by land, sea and air. Without neither resources nor men, a counter-offensive would be absolutely suicidal. A simple resistance would give an opportunity for a useless carnage. Surrender appears to be inevitable. Colonel Carlos Morais, in his book, records the historic moment: 12:15 of the 19th December. The commanders present are informed of the decision, which is transmitted at 14:00, in writing, to the Indian commander: "I request your Excellency for a cease-fire between our forces, as of this moment". At 15:00, Azaredo is called to the command post. "Profoundly dejected, the Governor ordered me to assemble the troops at the headquarters at Alparqueiros", the entrance to the city of Vasco da Gama, "because there was a truce to hold talks". Returning to his position, "I handed over command of the S. Jacinto sector to Lt Máximo, sat in my Volkswagen to go to Issoroim to inform Lt Melo Gomes of the order to retreat". On his return to S. Jacinto, he is taken by surprise on the road by an enemy patrol, commanded by an officer , who orders him to stop. Alone and being unable to resist, he gives himself up. "A Sargent took possession of my pistol, a 9mm Parabello, and the officer sat in the car, with me driving and two armed soldiers behind". On arriving Alparqueiros, already under control of Indian troops, Azaredo gets out of the car in which his captor disappears. "The first thing I saw on entering the Headquarters was a mound of weapons on the ground, on which the Portuguese (soldiers) were placing as soon as they were taken prisoner". The formal surrender of Vassalo e Silva is received at 18:00 by Brig K.S. Dhillon, of the 6th Brigade of the Sikh Infantry. In all, 4668 prisoners are taken, including military and civilian personnel, Portuguese, Africans and Indians (Goans) -- numbers as given in the "Operation Vijay" report; 3412 in Goa, 853 in Damão, 403 in Diu. Concentrated in Goa, they are divided into four camps: Navelim (subsequently closed, so bad it was), Aguada, Pondá and Alparqueiros. This is the largest, with almost 2,000 detainees, among whom is Vassalo e Silva. It is here that the now ex-Governor receives, on the 20th, a visit from the enemy commander, General Chaudhury. "He came by helicopter -- it was the first time that I saw one, I believe it was an Alouette 1". Azaredo is in the General's room. "He had asked to borrow a washed shirt -- the only one I had slipped into my canvas bag. He wanted to present himself properly. As he was broader than me, the shirt was a bit tight for him". The General does not speak English, and requests the captain to be the interpreter. Chaudhury makes it a point to enter alone into the cell. "Vassalo wanted to stand up to compliment the Indian, but the latter rested his hand on his shoulder and did not let him. He pulled up a chair and sat down". The Portuguese refuses preferential treatment offered to him and thanks for the courtesy shown for the well being of his wife. "Then, Chaudhury congratulated the ex-Governor for the action of the Portuguese troops in the 'valiant skirmishe' engaged in Mapuça, Bicholim, Damão and Diu, where they reacted very well". At the end, the victor puts himself at the disposal of the vanquished "for whatever that was necessary. He gave a cordial hand-grip and withdrew". Azaredo stays at Alparqueiros and Vassalo is thereafter transferred to Pondá. While they are at the same camp, they have long conversations. "The general would call me now and then. He was a profoundly drained main. He used to say that an officer is not the master of his men's lives, to the extent of sending them to their deaths unnecessarily. He would never accept the destruction of Goa, which was also built by the Goans". In the prison, Azaredo is in the same room with four other captains. For a mattress, he has "a bit of corrugated cardboard, on top of the cement floor". Having only one uniform, "I always had it washed and stretched. I would make it a point to present myself every day, at the review, orderly and strict. And I had my shoes polished -- even when, at the end, they did not even have a sole". The rest of the day "I used to go about in my underwear". The food is insufficient "I even lost a good number of kilos". Of the prison wardens, he has no particular reason to complain. "Apart from the first days, they were absolutely correct with me". The daily routine is the same: reading, chess, mail ("in spite of being censored"), physical exercises, volleyball or basketball games. He has less than a hundred men under him -- "what remained of three squadrons of the Cavalry". Everyday, they carry out a session of "falling to order", even without weapons, lasting five to ten minutes, "to maintain discipline and order". They have an unexpected company of a langur monkey. "It was caught by an ensign at Bicholim, who gave it to me. It was silver and had a white chest. It was called Krishna, after one of the Hindu gods. I took him to Lisbon with me and later on to Cabinda". One of his jobs consists of editing the reports of the last operations. The order comes from Vassalo e Silva, transmitted to him by the Jesuit priest Joaquim Ferreira da Silva. Alparqueiros is situated in a small peninsula at the mouth of the Zuari, squeezed between the naval shipyards, the city of Vasco da Gama and the Mormugão dock, from where rich iron ore is exported -- the main raw material of Goa. Belonging to the Navy, the headquarters has gained in strategic scope and importance. There is only one entrance and is liminarmente prohibited to foreigners -- as one notes, badly resourced, just one guard. Its only from the dirty fishermen's beach, to the west that it is possible to have a view, and that too partially, of the former "Quartel do Batalhão de Infantaria de Vasco da Gama". As at all military bases, the authorisation to visit the former prisoner-of-war camp was not granted in time. The hard life at the camp is made more pleasant by visits -- Goan friends, acquaintances, or simply anonymous persons. "In the early days, there were hundreds, even thousands, who displayed all their kindness and love". Surprised, the military authorities limit the visits to twice a week and limit them to only the Red Cross. Adélia Costa is one of the rare persons authorised to visit Alparqueiros. She is the Director of the Psychiatric Hospital Abade Faria. Graduated in Lisbon, she would be the first woman in Portugal to specialise in Neurology. "When I started to work, it used to be called the Mental Hospital. It was a horrible thing, they used to beat up the patients and all. I encountered various Goan political prisoners, with orders from the Police to be interned! I stopped all this, with total support from Vassalo e Silva". As Azaredo's neighbour, she went apprehensively to wish the captain's family goodbye when they were evacuated. It was a time when she still had illusions, "I cannot forget my father, and optimist who would never believe that India would invade Goa". At the dawn of the 18th, Adélia woke up with the first explosions and an unexpected visit. "It was four or five in the morning when Carlos knocked at the door. In full uniform, he had come to wish me goodbye. 'If I die, I would like you to hand these over to my wife,' he said, when he thrust two parcels into my hands -- a book and a transistor radio, I think". It was a very emotional moment. The doctor only remembers the officer saying "this is our work -- we only really work when there is war". And the war had started. Without losing time, the Director rushed to the hospital, to protect her patients. She only calmed down after having covered the roof with white bed-sheets, painted with large red crosses. The doctor and the captain meet on Christmas Day. "It was the first time I could go to Alparqueiros. There was a huge crowd! The people of Goa, poor as they were, were giving what they could: cigarettes, biscuits, tea, medicines, money". The great solidarity is followed by prohibition of visits. "As only the Red Cross was allowed into the camps, I signed up immediately". Adélia Costa continues to live in Goa. At Panaji, she much prefers to spend weekends with her brothers and nephews in the enormous manor of "Quadros and Costa". It is there that she tells us of the unforgettable days, sitting on a comfortable wooden chair, between an aromatic coffee and a tasty coconut cake baked by her sister. Time seems to have come to a standstill at the old manor at Loutolim. From the huge columns to the magnificent couch, crossing to the astonishing Indo-Portuguese prayer-room, they all evoke a rich but distant past. With respect to repatriation, Adéli's parents convinced her to go to Lisbon. "I made use of it, and in five months I specialised in Psychiatry". The doctor did not rest easy whilst she was away from her parents, who were left alone. "I returned back on 22nd February 1963". Going back to work at the hospital was out of the question. "I started a consulting room where I still practice". She also left the Red Cross. Instead of a Portuguese passport, she now carries an Indian one. "This is my country, and this is where I want to live," she explains. "It does not stop me from visiting Lisbon". On the 17th January, a group of prisoners tries an escape, foiled by an inqualificavel unclassified rumour. Furious, the 2nd Camp Commander, Capt. Naik, calls for an emergency assembly for a special counting of the prisoners, to ensure that there were no other escapes. "When I went slowly past Naik, on the way to the assembly, he ordered me: "Run! Run!" I grumbled and sent him to hell". In Portuguese or English, he doesn't know for certain -- the truth is that the Sikh officer did not like it. "He ordered five privates to beat me up. When one was pointing a gun at me, the others started to hit me, some with the butts of their rifles". Fallen on to the ground, he only remembers waking up the next morning, full of contusions. "I admit that perhaps I deserved the thrashing, but at least I had the rare pleasure of sending him to hell!" The incident remained in the annals of the camp. Many salute to the courage of the brave Capt. Azaredo, who does not hesitate to disclose: "It is true that Naik was punished -- that only goes in favour of the Indian Army, which always respected the articles of the Geneva Convention". The captivity lasts for six months, "thanks to the stupid stubbornness of Lisbon". The negotiations drag on, even because Salazar orders the detention of 12,00 Indians in Mozambique, who come to form an exchange commodity. Finally, on the 6th of May, repatriation begins: an aerial bridge until Karachi, and then on one of three ships sent by the Government. "I left the camp on the 12th May, on board a French plane, with my canvas bag and my monkey". When he reached Pakistan, he embarks on board the "Patria", where he receives a shirt, a vest and a pair of trousers, "for which later they requested payment or their return". The dictatorship, which had not shown any haste in liberating the prisoners, also did not show any satisfaction in welcoming them. "We arrived at the shallows of Tejo at 16:00. We anchored and we were only allowed to enter at 2:00 in the morning. In the meanwhile, they filled up the ship with Military Police pointing machine-pistols at us". Astounded, the ex-prisoners cannot understand the justification. "They told us that it was to defend us from the ire of the populace, who wanted to lynch us for our cowardice." At Rocha do Conde de bidos, however, there is neither violence nor recrimination. There are only hugs and tears, from family members and friends, who fill up the dock to welcome the ex-prisoners. The same that the Press of the regime lamented for not being heroes killed in combat. A settlement of accounts is inevitable. As a scapegoat for the loss of the imperial jewel, the behaviour of the military garrison is analysed in light of a mere Disciplinary Regulation. Instead of tribunals, lawyers and judges, the case is handed over to generals and bureaucrats, without having any rights to defence. The verdict is known in March 1963. The sanctions are severe: 10 officers are expelled from the Armed forces, starting with Vassalo e Silva; compulsory retirement for five; half a year's suspension from military service for nine. There is no appeal. The heavy hand of punishment almost makes other officers ignore possible citations and promotions, some being posthumous. Azaredo has never forgotten the humiliation and the arbitrariness of it all. "All this increased a feeling in me of profound revolt against Salazar and against his narrow and anti-national politics" and that leads him to participate in the coup of 25th April. In September 1974, Carlos Azaredo comes across Goa again, this time to preside over the commission to review the "case of India". In his direct and fearless manner, he proposes the annulment, pure and simple, of all the punishment imposed and the reintegration of the military personnel. "It was the only form of applying justice rapidly". The proposal is approved of by the democratic agencies in power. The legal decree is published on 19th December 1974 -- exactly 13 years after the end of the Portuguese State of India. For the original story in Portuguese and photographs, please visit: http://semanal.expresso.pt/revista/artigos/interior.asp?edicao=1519&id_artigo=ES44188 Translator's Notes: 1. The military terms used are approximate as they are unfamiliar to the translator. Any corrections are welcome.