Thursday, April 18, 2013


Dadra and Nagar-Aveli are two adjacent enclaves of Portuguese India located in the interior from Damaõ. Administratively, they belong to the District or Conselho of Damaõ, under the Governor of Damaõ. Dadra's headquarter is the village of Dadra; the town of Silvasa is the headquarters of Nagar-Aveli.

Of the small police force manning Dadra, three policemen, Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario, Sub-Chefe Antonio Fernandes, and a third policemen chose to obey the dictates of their conscience and to stand by their flag — that of Portugal — rather than heed the alluring and insidious seduction of traitors to join them in their treason. Aniceto and Antonio paid for their loyalty with their very lives, two stalwart patriots and heroes martyred by the Indian terrorists.

The Crime
On the 21st of July 1954 at 9.30 p.m. the Dadra Police Station was violently attacked and two police personnel of the Portuguese Indian Police Force, Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario and Sub-Chefe Antonio Fernandes were murdered and a third injured. Next morning, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru stated that he was surprised to read of the incident in the newspapers.

Ten months later, the Bombay weekly Current carried an article by the editor D.F. Karaka, raising a number of embarrassing questions on the armed assaults on Dadra and Nagar Aveli and asked where the volunteers, admittedly invading Dadra & Nagar-Aveli from Indian territory, had procured their arms from in a country (India) where there had been the strictest control on the possession of fire-arms.

Many years later, I came to know from a Goan 'Nationalist' (i.e. Indianist or pro-Indian partisan) that the telegram to proceed with the assault on Dadra had come from Nehru himself. If one is to read the graphic descriptions of the preparations for, and the assault itself, one can conclude conclusively that the planning for the same had taken place over several months.

When eye-witnesses were interviewed many years later, they recalled the firing on and the return fire from the defenders of Dadra within the besieged Police Station to have lasted some 20 minutes and that the next morning the Indian flag was seen flying over the Police Station, with Indian policemen already manning the building.

The Background

Since Indian independence, the Governors of Damaõ, as well as the other officials of the District, including the Europeans, had always been allowed, by custom and tradition, to cross the Indian territory between Damaõ on the coast and the interior enclaves of Dadra and Nagar-Aveli, and to go and return from Vapi, without any formalities of visas or presenting themselves to the Indian authorities.

But there had been diplomatic notes from India to Portugal demanding the unconditional transfer (cession) of the six Portuguese enclaves (Goa, Damaõ, Dio, Dadra, Nagar-Aveli & the Isle of Anjediva) to the Indian Union and after these notes had been rebuffed by the Government of Portugal, the Indian Union decided to close down its legation in Lisboa with effect from the 11sth June 1953.

This, indeed, was the take-off signal for the Indian Union authorities to make false allegations on the treatment of Indians within Portuguese territories in order to justify its action against the Portuguese civil and police personnel transiting between Damaõ and the two enclaves (Dadra & Nagar-Aveli) dependent on it.

Preparations Start
Against the background of some alleged harassment of two Indians, B.S Sood and Bhatnagar, (identified by the Goan community as two of the many Indian spies and provocateurs) of the many thousands of Indians who had visited Goa for the Exposition of the Relics of St. Francis Xavier in December 1952, the Indian Union chose to withdraw the facilities of visa-less travel between Damaõ and its dependent enclaves from 26th October 1953 — 10 months later.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had stated in its note No D.6886 of 23 December 1953 that the District Magistrate of Surat was being authorized to grant transit visas to Portuguese European officials going from Damaõ to Dadra and to Nagar-Aveli, but in actual fact the District Magistrate claimed that his duty was only to notify the Passport Office in Bombay of the movements of Portuguese European officials and the issue of visas was still the responsibility of the Indian Consul-General in Nova Goa (Pangim).

From 3 February 1954 the Government of India prohibited the transshipment of arms and ammunition from Damaõ to Dadra & to Nagar-Aveli except for those arms carried personally the by the Governor-General of Goa and diplomatic personnel accredited to India.

The Build-Up

On 12 March 1954, Dr. Vasco Vieira Garin, Minister of Portugal in New Delhi drew the attention of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, that the population of Damaõ had been forbidden by India to purchase foodstuffs from Indian markets near the border and that Indian police posts in a radius of 20 to 30 kilometers from the border had been reinforced with 300 plain-clothes armed men.

On 9 April 1954, Dr. Pedro Teotonio Pereira, Ambassador of Portugal in Washington D.C., issued a confidential diplomatic note that following the withdrawal of the Indian Legation in Lisboa on 11 June 1953, there bad been an intensification in anti-Portuguese propaganda in India, that even postal services to Portuguese India had been subject to delay and that insurmountable difficulties had been placed in the transit of Portuguese officials between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli.

On 24 April 1954, the Legation of Portugal in New Delhi protested the new restrictive measures on motor traffic between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli. In a separate note of the same date, Dr. Vasco Vieira Garin exposed a new system of permits for all Portuguese officials, not just Europeans, to enter and cross Indian territory.

On 27 April 1954 Dr. Garin called the attention of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to persistent rumours of invasion of Portuguese villages in Dio. On 6 July 1954 the Legation of Portugal in New Delhi verbally took up with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs the sudden arrest and deportation to Goa of a long-standing Bombay resident, Mr. Pompeia Viegas.

The Aggression

On 22 July 1954 the Portuguese Government of Goa telegraphed Lisboa that On his arrival at the frontier on 22 July 1954 the Governor of Damaõ had been refused permission to proceed to Dadra & Nagar-Aveli on fictitious grounds that separate visas for arrival and departure were required and not on the passport presented; but, having obtained these visas at Vapi, he visited Dadra but on his return to Vapi he was sent back to Dadra for awhile in order that he may not see the movement of Indian troops being deployed, as per intelligence, for the invasion of Dadra, and The Governor was encountering hostile preparations, the outcome of which appeared in the Indian press on 22 July 1954. There had arrived at Vapi a group of about 1200 "volunteers" consisting of ex-Indian military personnel and officials, about a dozen jeeps, and radio and combat equipment. On the same day, namely, 22 July 1954 the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the press that links between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli had been cut, that Dadra had been practically encircled by a Mahratta Infantry unit, that between Dadra and Nagar-Aveli considrable armed forces had been placed, and that the situation there was grave.

The following day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lisboa, announced that an aggression had been launched against Dadra and deplored the loss of life of and injuries to the police personnel defending Dadra.

The Portuguese Legation in New Delhi in a note No. 98 dated 24 July 1954 to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs communicated that Dadra had been the object of armed aggression, that as a result of the hindrance of communications between Damaõ and Dadra & Nagar-Aveli the Portuguese Government was not fully aware of the details of what had happened, that a state of violent usurpation did exist which could not in any way impair the sovereignty and the rights of Portugal in connection with the victims of aggression, and that the Indian Union grant transit facilities to the Portuguese armed forces and the authorities staying in Damaõ to enable them to re-establish the order that had been disrupted.

The Ground Reality

Bombay newspapers on the morning of 22 July 1954 reported that the first chunk of Portuguese territory had been "liberated" by the United Front of Goans and displayed a photograph of its president Francisco Mascarenhas, in gumboots as "Supreme Commander" hoisting the Indian flag in front of the Dadra Police Station the previous night.

It transpired that the renegade Francisco Mascarenhas had actually been holed up by Indian military personnel in the waiting room at the Vapi Railway Station until the violent occupation of the Police Station had been accomplished in around 20 minutes, starting at 9.30 p.m. on 21 July 1954 and only then was he transported to the site of the murder of its defenders, the patriots Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes in order to moderate public opinion to what the Indian press made it appear — an action purely undertaken by "anti-Portuguese" Goans.

Aniceto Rosario was in charge of the Police Post, Antonio Fernandes and the third man were under him. Another officer, Francisco Xavier Stein de Lira, fled from the rear of the Police Post, leaving the rear door open for the enemy.

According to the brother of Sub-Chefe Aniceto do Rosario, an engine-driver of the Indian Railways, on the morning of 21 July 1954, some men had called at the Dadra Police Post to advice Aniceto do Rosario and his subordinates that they planned to attack at night-fall, and advising him and his men to surrender but Rosario and his men (except one) opted to remain steadfast with the Portuguese Flag even unto death.

In front of the Police Station stands the Flag Post, where the National Flag used to fly. As the mob of terrorists charged the Police Post, one of them attempted to tear down the National Flag; Antonio Fernandes could not stand this desecration but rushed out and shot him down; for his labours, he received the crown of martyrdom at their hands.

Aniceto do Rosario and another, a Muslim, held the Police Station, and with a judicious use of their arms, shot down many of the terrorists. However, they were vastly outnumbered, and one of the terrorists crept in from behind, through the back door left open by Stein de Lira, and stabbed the great martyr in the back, thus bringing him his martyr's crown.

Stein de Lira cooperated with the terrorists, and became a collaborator; the enemies triumphantly flaunted him as the "Regidor of Dadra", and as a means of justifying themselves.

So heavy was the toll inflicted by the heroes upon the terrorists that, according to eye-witnesses, at least two truckloads of their corpses had to be carted away.

For his courage and integrity, Dom Aniceto do Rosario was awarded post-humously the highest award of Portugal: "Order of the Tower and Sword".

The bodies of Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes were buried in a field adjacent to the site of their martyrdom. The Indians refused to permit any markers, but a cleric insisted on placing markers on their graves. Later, their remains were repatriated to Damao, where they were re-intered in the Fort.

In the city of Damaõ, the streets near their homes were named after our heroes: Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes. The Indians have renamed these streets after some of their fellows, after the Occupation of Damaõ, in December 1961.

Viva Portugal!

Agnelo Gracias, Dabul, Bombay.

Further Notes

In the morning of July 21, 1954 some men visited Aniceto do Rosario at the Dadra police station and told him that 'they' would be coming in the evening and he and his men should surrender but instead he put up a fight. The post was attacked around 9.30 p.m. from across the road and firing continued for around 20 minutes. The rear door of the police station was open and that is where the miscreants entered and killed Aniceto do Rosario and Antonio Fernandes. They were buried in the grounds of the Franciscan monastery in Dadra but somewhere in 1959/60 through the intervention of the Red Cross and after personal application of Aniceto's brother to the government of India the remains were allowed to be taken to Damao.

Till the battle at Dadra was over, Francis Mascarenhas was kept waiting in the Vapi waiting room and then he was driven to Dadra to make it appear that he 'liberated' it as 'supreme commander.'

One Pereira, senior police officer after Falcao, wanted to put up a stand at Canoel but when he found that Fidalgo and Falcao had crossed into Indian territory, he surrendered with his men who were kept in detention at Canoel till November and were then allowed to proceed to Damao. When Fidalgo and Falcao crossed into Indian territory in Nasik District they were brought to Bombay and were at the residence of a Parsi, Mr. Contractor, who harboured them for few days till they got back into Portuguese territory.

For six months the residents of Dadra and Nagar Aveli were not allowed to step out of the areas till a formal permit system was introduced.

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