Monday, October 12, 2009

Goa's Unsung hero - General M.A. Vassalo e Silva


Unsung hero

If at all, our Goans were sad because of the Liberation of Goa, it was only because they felt a big loss of the Portuguese governor, General Vassalo e Silva.

We saw with our own eyes how much he had done for our Goa and the people. He cast aside the order received from his High Command in Portugal, to return Goa in ashes to the Government of India, if at all the time permits. Today, if Goans are living in their beautiful Goa, it is because of our last Portuguese Governor.

After he left Goa, he did not take his asylum in any of the Western countries, but went to Portugal and suffered humiliations and other punishments for the great heroic work he had done in his position as the last Governor of Goa, Daman and Diu.

Paulo Mascarenhas, Panjim


Photo: exclusive to
gaspar almeida

Additional link:
Portuguese troops in Goa, India - 1954


© Stories of Heroism, Dr. B.C. Chakravorty, edited by Dr. U.P. Thapliyal, Government of India, Ministry of Defence, History Division.

The Portuguese refusal to transfer her Indian settlements of Goa, Daman, Diu and Anjidiv Islands to the Indian Republic, led to Operation Vijay in 1961. They had ruthlessly suppressed a peaceful Satyagraha launched to liberate these territories in 1955. In 1961, they even fired on some Indian coastal steamers and fishing boats near Anjidiv Island. India, therefore, decided to use force to liberate the Portuguese pockets on her soil.
Goa Operations
On 11 December 1961, 17 Inf Div and attached troops were ordered to advance into Goa to capture Panjim and Marmagao. The main thrust on Panjim was to be made by 50 Ind Para Bde Group from the north. Another thrust was to be carried by 63 Inf. Bde from the east. A deceptive thrust, in company strength, was to be made from the south along the Majali-Canacona-Margao axis.
The Eastern Thrust
On December 18th, the 50 Para Bde Group moved into Goa in three columns. The western column (the 2 Sikh LI Group) marched on the Dodamarg-Tivim-Betim-Panjim axis, the central column (1 Para Punjab) on the Benastarim-Panjim axis and the eastern column (2 Para Maratha) on the Dodamarg-Usgao-Ponda axis. The first 2 competed in the race for Panjim. The western column led by armour moved out at 0630 hrs. The armour reached Betim shortly after 1700 hrs without encountering any opposition. The 2 Sikh LI joined it by 2100 hrs, crossing over mines and demolished bridges en-route. Panjim now lay only 549 metres away. But in the absence of orders from above, the unit stayed at Betim for the night. The same night Major Sidhu of the 7 Cavalry was killed when Portuguese guards fired on an unsuspecting Indian rescue party at Aguada Fort.
On December 19th, the 2nd Sikh LI received permission to cross over to Panjim and the two rifle companies landed there at 0735 hrs. The race to Panjim was won. The central column of 1 Para Punjab crossed the border at 0600 hrs. Up to Bicholim it moved as the eastern column but from there it turned on the Banastarim-Panjim axis. It reached Banastarim at 1730 hrs but was held up there on account of the broken bridge. On December 18th, the water obstacle was negotiated and the column reached Panjim by 0830 hrs, 55 minutes after the Sikhs. The eastern most column (2 Para Maratha) moved on the northern route on the Sanquelim-Usgao-Ponda axis. It reached Ponda at 1345 hours and brought order to the town. The eastern column conducted patrolling in the Ponda-Banastarim sector and established contact with the rear elements of 1 Para on December 19th.
The Northern Thrust
The 63 Indian Inf. Bde. moved into Goa from Anmond in two columns. The right column (2 Bihar) moved through a track whereas the left column (3 Sikh) moved down the existing road. Both columns linked up at Mollem and then moved on to Ponda taking separate routes. 3 Sikh could not go beyond Darbandora on December 18th. 2 Bihar went further to settle at Candeapar for the night. Meanwhile the 4 Sikh, the rear battalion, reached Candeapar river crossing at midnight. At 0600 hrs on December 19th, 4 Sikh crossed Candeapar by wading through chest high water and by mid-day rolled into Margao. It then marched on to Dabolim through Verna where a number of Portuguese surrendered at 1530 hrs. Finally it moved to Vasco Da Gama where the Portuguese formally surrendered at 2030 hrs. With the 4 Sikh in the lead, 2 Bihar also pressed on in the direction of Margao. But finding the Sikhs well set on the outskirts of the town it advanced on Verna. The enemy stronghold was attacked on both flanks and their resistance collapsed.
The swift action of 2 Bihar at Verna enabled the 4 Sikh to press on to Dabolim and Marmagao unhindered. The 3 Sikh was put on reserve on December 19th. From here it marched on to Margao and beyond in two columns. Some 400 Portuguese soldiers surrendered before it on December 20th. A diversionary move was made from south along the Majali-Canacon-Margao axis, in company (4 Rajput) strength. It was meant to mislead the Portuguese about the direction of the main Indian thrust. The southern column marched up to Margao overcoming road blocks, mines & broken bridges and helped in restoring order there. The 17 Division ended more than four centuries of Portuguese rule over Goa in just 40 hours. The IAF also played a useful role as its Canberra aircraft, twice bombed the Dabolim airfield whereas Hunters bombed Bombolim Wireless Station.
Daman Operations
Operations in Daman were conducted by the 1 Maratha LI. It launched an attack on Nani Daman from the north after neutralising the Flying Control Tower and Post-175 in a pre-dawn sweep. By 1700 hrs, the two companies had reached the Garden area south of the airfield. The battalion settled in this area for the night. At 1100 hrs on December 19th, the Portuguese made a surrender in Daman without giving any fight. In this push forward, artillery and air support played an effective role. The Army captured 600 soldiers and some guns & mortars in Daman. The Army suffered 1 JCO and 3 ORs killed and 1 JCO and 13 ORs wounded in the Daman operations. Portuguese suffered 10 killed and 2 wounded.

Diu Operations
Diu was the smallest Portuguese possession in India. A two-pronged attack was made on Diu-one from the north-west and the other from the north-east. The north-western thrust on Kob-Forte-Do Passo-De Covo axis was made by two companies of 20 Rajput, to establish a bridge-head and to capture the airfield. But the Rajput effort was frustrated by the well sited MMG and LMG fire across the creek. The Rajputs (B Coy) where, however, successful in their thrust on the Ahmdepur-Gogal axis. They replaced the 4 Madras and successfully attacked Gogla at 1600 hours. The enemy resistance was overcome with heavy pounding of guns. Portuguese garrison showed a white flag and surrendered. In Diu operations the IAF gave very useful support to the Rajputs. Toofani aircraft gave much needed support by bombarding the citadel and the control tower at the airfield on December 18th. On December 19th, the 4 Madras (C Coy) occupied the Island of Panikota and captured 13 Portuguese soldiers.
Anjidiv Island
Anjidiv lies to the south of Goa. The task of capturing this Island was entrusted to the INS Mysore and the INS Trishul. While the INS Mysore was to provide covering fire, the INS Trishul was to land a party on the Island. The assault party called 'Rustum' landed there successfully at 0715 hrs on December 18th. Another party followed at 0746 hrs. At this stage, the Portuguese hoisted a white flag near beach Lima. But this was a deceptive move and the Portuguese soon started firing on the second Indian party nearing the beach. The Army suffered some casualties in this treacherous attack. INS Trishul and the INS Mysore thoroughly shelled the enemy strong points to break the resistance. As a result of this pressure, many Portuguese surrendered on December 18th. More prisoners were taken over on December 19th. At 1425 hrs on December 19th, the Indian Flag was hoisted at Anjidiv.

The invasion of Goa in the eyes of a Portuguese military


"The invasion of the Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, consummated in 1961 by Indian troops, was “illegal, illegitimate and against human rights,” told to Lusa, the general Carlos Azeredo.

“It was an attack absolutely illegal, illegitimate and against human rights … this is a historical truth and the truth is not fan,” said Carlos Azeredo, in an interview to the agency Lusa, in Porto, where he lives.

Carlos Azeredo, then with 31 years old, was in Goa as a liaison officer from the commander of the State Police in India (PEI, name given to the Portuguese Army in India), General Vassalo e Silva, when 50 thousand troops of the Indian Union invaded the State Portuguese in India, in the evening of December 17, 1961. “They had automatic weapons and we some Kropatchek of 1892, weapons of Czech origin completely obsolete, that we had to load after each shot. We did not have any aircrafts and they attacked us with a jet aircrafts. It was the first time I saw a jet airplane” recalled Carlos Azeredo.

The attack was done by land, with armored fighting vehicle, using air, with many fighters and bombers, and by sea, with several ships of war. The resistance lasted little. The then captain Azeredo had the task of commanding the troops in the last redoubt, in Goa, but it did not come into action. With only an anti-aircraft machine gun, little artillery, little ammunition and only a warship, a notice of the first class, the Portuguese could not resist a long time. Less than two days later, at 17.00 of December 19, they accepted the cease-fire and consumption on the Indian Union occupation, but the unilateral annexation was not recognized by Portugal and the United Nations until 1974.

With the cease-fire, which was not an official surrender, as stressed Carlos Azeredo, the Indiana sent to the prison camps 3500 soldiers of PEI. Prevented from trying to escape, under penality of being “traitors”, only six months after a Portugueses ship went there for take the prisoners, received in Lisbon under the threat of guns, as Salazar accused them of “cowards” for not having fought until death. “Goa was a tragedy, a national disaster,” said Carlos Azeredo, former head of the Military House of President of the Republic Mário Soares. For Carlos Azeredo, there was no reason, “not to be geographical,” to integrate Goa, Daman and Diu in the Indian Union, which was well creation later than the Portuguese India."


"Paris Match" of 13 January 1962. Goans farewell to the last portuguese Governor, Vassalo e Silva.



  2. El Reino de España apoyó, en 1961, la posición del Vecino y Amigo Portugal

  3. Goa was part of India and the Portuguese were the ones who first illegally invaded and occupied it in the first place! It was originally known as Govapuri, founded by the Emperor Ashoka the Great.
    See this:

    Know a little bit of history before you yell about your 'Portugese Goan heritage'!

    1. Afghanistan
      Sri Lanka
      All these countries were also part of India(Chandragupta Maurya Brhadrata Empire or Maurya Empire) at one point, why didn't India invade all of this Countries)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hey Hey back up there a little bit sir... you need to also realize that even though Portugal has been in India for about 451 years [A time then the current concept of India did not even exist and on whose unjustified grounds it was wrongfully assimilated into India through war and because Nehru wanted to distract the common man from his goof ups before the general elections - as seen in the You Tube clippings that talk about this transition], The Portuguese were actually one of the best of all foreign invaders of the Indian sub continent that include the Mamaluk Turks and the Mongols.

      Though their main bane was the ruthless spread of Christianity - Well you can't get sugar and salt at the same time; Portugal gave a lot of their culture, language, traditions, food and even better economic status compared to the previous poverty that prevailed.
      In fact compared to what Goa is going through right now, am sure almost all of Goa will echo when I say that Goa should have still been under the Portuguese Rule.

      In the words of Dom Manuel Antonio Vassalo da Silva, the Last Portuguese Viceroy, the surrender to the Indians was done on the condition that the cultural and historical heritage of Goa would be preserved.

      So I rest my case by saying that you may seriously have to revisit your argument, for the very argument is quite baseless considering the time periods you and history are talking about.

      Viva Goa!!! Viva Portugal!!

  4. If it had been Govapuri even now the above jerks daughter would have been married at age 5 and his wife would have jumped into the fire with his dead body.

  5. Emperor Ashoka the great... hahahaha.. who is this idiot to teach us history? Was he alive then?

  6. who the hell is ashoka the great ???i am goan with portuguese culture.only goans can speak about goa .the person who entered a post @june 18 2010 7.54 is an indian i think

  7. most of the people from goa refer to indians as theives and gantis

  8. Viva Portugal e Goa.Eu te detesto india!

  9. I am from Vasai, in Maharashtra. Even we were ruled by portuguese for a little time. But I am proud to be an Indian as much as I am proud of my lil bit of portuguese heritage. People from Goa should be proud of their porto heritage, but they should not forget that they are more indian than portuguese and always will be. Just my point of view. M proud to be mixed cultured..

  10. goa is part of portugal indians get out

  11. You goans are idiots, mostly drunk on your pheny! Learn your history jerks .. the portuguese killed many of your ancestors during Inquisition to forcefully convert you into Christianity. If you went back only 5 generations, you were either a hindu or muslim! And now, you adore portuguese although they treated you like dogs until India took over ...

    1. Get your history straight dude, here is a bit of history for you and I think you should research before you talk of such things:-
      The Portuguese and Hindus were great business and military collaborators; religious affiliations did not matter. Therefore many Hindus who did not convert or even those who consistently refused to convert and overtly opposed Christendom continued to receive from the Portuguese more honours, favours and jobs.
      The Portuguese zeal for Christianisation gradually died down, so much so that by the last quarter of the 18th century, with the acquisition of the Novas Conquistas (New Conquest), they officially permitted the construction of temples in the territory and agreed not to interfere in the existing religious and social customs. Furthermore, no conversion work was undertaken thereafter.
      So Portuguese did convert some Hindus into Catholics but did not kill them if they didn’t want to convert later they even changed thier policies of converting Hindus. So when Goa was invaded by India they were not actually helping Goans but helping themselves with the beauty and wealth of Goa wich they always lusted for, or else they would at least allow Goans to choose which side they want to belong (India or Portugal) after the Portuguese surrender but obviously that did not happen.

    2. If you are saying get ur history right I must tell you that i have read personal accounts of European travelers describing the barbarism in which native Goans were converted and a majority of Muslims massacred in their own mosques and also read books stating there were official govt records of the church all recording the events and every1 in Goa knows about a very dark chapter in Goan history ie The Goa Inquisition which is the forceful conversion to Christianity thru brutal n torturous methods.These facts are undeniable.My own ancestors were a victim of that and thus had to flee Goa.I dont think there should be any glorification of Portugal talking abt the time when the Church had a lot of control.Later after the Port.Govt took over things started to change for good.Prior to the invasion,Goa was and is still an integral part of India and every1 else must respect that fact.Its illogical to say it belongs to a foreign power.Whether or not Goa belongs to Portugal I think you should come n ask Goans "residing in Goa" irrespective of religion and you'll get ur ans.

  12. Sid I am really impressed with your knowledge and your refutes by fact.... Keep on the good work and feel free to look into my blog for further inspirations. I hope you do not mind but for better awareness I would like to copy your article for a little larger and meaningful viewership with due credit to you.

    Mouto Obrigado Senhor!!!!

  13. GOOOAAA a state of mind not a state of india....




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A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.