Goa Liberation Day

The President of India tweeted her greetings to the nation on December 19, Goa Liberation Day, which is observed annually to commemorate the success of ‘Operation Vijay,’ which was launched by the Indian armed forces in 1961 to defeat Portuguese colonial forces and liberate Goa.

What is the news?

  • Goa was liberated 15 years after India gained independence.
  • Last year, Prime Minister Modi accused Nehru of abandoning satyagrahis by refusing to send the Indian Army to liberate Goa, despite the fact that 25 of them had been killed by the Portuguese Army.


  • Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the forces of the Sultan of Bjiapur, Yusuf Adil Shah, in 1510, and Goa became a Portuguese colony.
  • The next four and a half centuries saw one of Asia’s longest colonial encounters, with Goa caught between competing regional and global powers.
  • It experienced a religious and cultural ferment that resulted in the emergence of a distinct Goan identity that is still contested today.
  • By the turn of the twentieth century, Goa had begun to see an increase in nationalist sentiment against Portugal’s colonial rule, coinciding with the anti-British nationalist movement.

Beginning of freedom movement

  • Tristao de Braganza Cunha, known as the “Father of Goan Nationalism,” founded the Goa National Congress at the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta in 1928.
  • Ram Manohar Lohia, a socialist leader, led a historic rally in Goa in 1946, calling for civil liberties and freedom, as well as eventual integration with India.
  • This was a watershed moment in Goa’s independence struggle.
  • Simultaneously, there was a belief that civil liberties could not be won through peaceful means, and that a more aggressive armed struggle was required.
  • This was the viewpoint of the Azad Gomantak Dal (AGD), whose co-founder Prabhakar Sinari is one of the few remaining freedom fighters.
  • Finally, Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961 by swift Indian military action that lasted less than two days.

Recognition of Goa

  • The Supreme Court of India upheld the annexation’s legality while rejecting the continued application of occupation law.
  • Portugal recognised Indian sovereignty in 1974 through a treaty with retroactive effect.
  • Forced annexations, including the annexation of Goa, are considered illegal under the jus cogens rule because they occurred after the UN Charter entered into force.

Why was Goa left un-colonized?

  • However, as India moved toward independence, it became clear that Goa would not be free any time soon due to a number of complex factors.
  • No immediate war: PM Nehru believed that if he launched a military operation (as in Hyderabad) to depose the colonial rulers, his image as a global peacemaker would suffer.
  • Partition Trauma: The trauma of Partition and the massive rupture that followed, combined with the war with Pakistan, prevented the Indian government from opening another front.
  • Internationalization of the problem: This may have prompted the international community to intervene.
  • No demand from within: Gandhi believed that much more groundwork was needed to raise people’s consciousness and bring the diverse political voices emerging within under a common umbrella.

Why did Nehru wait until December 1961 to launch a full-scale military offensive?

  • India could no longer be seen delaying Goa’s liberation because: Portuguese offensive against Satyagrahis: The firing incident elicited a strong reaction from the Government of India, which severed diplomatic and consular ties with Portugal in 1955.
  • India as a torchbearer of decolonization: With decolonization and anti-imperialism as pillars of its policy, India firmly established itself as a leader of the Non-Aligned World and Afro-Asian Unity.
  • African nations’ criticisms: In 1961, an Indian Council of Africa seminar on Portuguese colonies heard strong views from Africans who saw this as impeding their own struggles against the ruthless regime.
  • Colonialism Weakening: The delegates were convinced that the Portuguese empire would fall the day Goa was liberated.
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