Unlike the rest of the country, Goa didn’t get independence on August 15th of 1947. What’s not very common knowledge to most Indians is that Goa was still under the control of the Portuguese until Operation Vijay happened in 1961.
Goa’s History With The Portuguese
The Portuguese had invaded their way into Goa long back in 1510. They had come to India and colonised their invaded land long before the British, in fact.
Before the Portuguese had set their feet on the Goan land, the area was under Muslim monopoly, But as times changed, Europeans started migrating here, and the numbers of Christians began to inflate.
Goa opened up the golden opportunity of trading through the sea route it provided, and the Portuguese knew how to make use of it. They massively traded spices to the western world and introduced the rest of the world to spices that were household ingredients to the Asians.
As they inhabited Goa for hundreds of years, they didn’t just trade goods but also gave a cultural makeover to the place. The Portuguese heavily influenced the cuisine, architecture and lifestyles of the people living there.
But all changes were not graciously accepted by the mass. The native Indians were gradually growing tired of having a foreign nation control their state of affairs. As the fight with the Whites escalated in India, things started heating up in Goa, and other Portuguese-controlled provinces too.
But unlike the British, the Portuguese didn’t leave India in 1947. So when the entire country celebrated independence, Goa was still in the dark.
Also Read: Meet The Gaonkar Family In Goa Who Are Keeping The 500-Year Old Cashew Liquor Tradition Alive
The Operation That Freed Goa In 1961 – Operation Vijay
Operation Vijay of 1961 was the product of the Government’s desperate attempt to end 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa.
When the Portuguese refused to give up control of the state in 1947, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, started trying different non-violent ways to resolve the issue. But all his efforts of peaceful and diplomatic negotiations were rendered useless.
In 1955, he imposed an economic blockade on Goa, but even that did not deter the Portuguese power to leave the Indian soil. So in 1961, Mr. Nehru decided that there was no alternative option left for military intervention.
He orchestrated a military attack on Goa on December 18 of that year and code-named it ‘Operation Vijay’, which translates to ‘Operation Victory.
The intervention lasted for 36 hours and included teams from all the branches of the Indian Armed Forces – the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
On December 19th, Goa’s deposed Governor-general Manuel António Vassalo e Silva officially surrendered to the Indian forces after twenty-two Indians and thirty Portuguese were killed in the operation.
With that, not only Goa tasted the air of freedom, but other previously Portuguese controlled places like Daman and Diu and Anjadip Island did too.
The Indian Navy website states, “The War Memorial at Indian Naval Ship Gomantak was constructed in memory of seven young gallant sailors and other personnel who laid down their lives on 19 Dec 1961 in the “Operation Vijay” undertaken by the Indian Navy for the liberation of Anjadip Island and Territories of Goa, Daman and Diu.”
Since then, while to the Portuguese, this day is marked as the day Goa was invaded, December 19th is celebrated as the ‘Goa Liberation Day’ in Indian history. This explains why Decembers in Goa are always so happening and full of festivities.
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