Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli—collectively known as the Estado da Índia—continued to remain occupied by Portugal after independence. They covered an area of about 4,000 sq km, and a population of about 6.4 lakh comprising about 61% Hindus, 37% Christians, and 2% Muslims. India finally carried out air, sea and land strikes under the armed- action code-named ‘Operation Vijay’, and liberated all the Portuguese- occupied Indian territories in December 1961, after a two-day operation. Dadra and Nagar Haveli were liberated earlier in 1954. Why should it have taken 14 long years after the Indian independence to throw out the Portuguese in 1961? Couldn’t Nehru get a small territory vacated?

During a long discussion on Goa in the Foreign Affairs Committee in 1950, Sardar Patel kept to himself listening to the various tame alternatives, then suddenly said at the end, “Shall we go in? It is two hours’ work!” Patel was very keen to fulfil the assurance given to the Goa Congress in his letter of 14 May 1946 promising freedom from foreign domination. He was all for using force to settle the matter quickly. But, Nehru was much too soft to take any effective steps. Patel felt exasperated.

Wrote Durga Das: “Gandhi advised the people [Indians] of the French and Portuguese possessions in India not to revolt against their overlords on 15th August but to trust Nehru to do for his kith and kin what he was doing to assist the Indonesians to become free. Indirectly, Gandhi was voicing the fact that he differed from Patel’s view on Goa and Pondicherry and other foreign enclaves and agreed with Nehru’s that the question of their liberation could wait for some time.”

If Sardar Patel’s advice had been heeded, Goa would have been part of the Indian Union by 1948 itself. However, with pacifists like Nehru and Gandhi desired action could always wait, and self-deluding talks substituted for decision and action. Left to Gandhi and Nehru, and had Patel not been on the scene, while Hyderabad and Junagadh would have been another Kashmir or Pakistan; there would have been dozens of independent Princely States sucking up to Britain or Pakistan, and becoming permanent headaches!

Commented Sita Ram Goel then, prior to Goa’s annexation:
“And the fact that Pandit Nehru has not ordered the Indian Army to march into Goa nor amalgamated the French possessions into the Indian Union without further reference to France, is also a positive proof that he is not an Indian patriot. I am convinced that not a fly will flutter in France if the French possessions are integrated forthwith into India. Portugal will most probably put up a fight over Goa. But, again, I am sure that no other Western nation will show her much sympathy or give her any support. Goa under the Portuguese and the French possessions without a de jure transfer are only convenient excuses for Pandit Nehru in his communist game of perverting Indian nationalism and setting it up against the Western camp. If Goa and the French possessions are taken by India, he will not know how to harangue against the North Atlantic Alliance, day in and day out.”


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