03 julho, 2012

Prisioneiros Portugueses na Índia, 1961-1962

Prisioneiros Portugueses na Índia, 1961-1962

The Portuguese POWs in Goa (1961-1962)

Teotonio R. de Souza

An young Portuguese scholar, Diogo Roque,  presented a M.Phil. dissertation  on this subject to the Department of History of  the Lisbon University on 27th June.  Invited to be on the board of examiners, I had  an opportunity to appreciate the work first hand. The study identifies interesting issues.
The study covers the surrender of the Portuguese armed forces on December 19, 1961  and the daily routine of the POWs in provisional and definitive camps till their repatriation in May 1962. The surrender was interpreted by the Salazar regime as a violation of its orders to resist unto death. Consequently, the governor and the armed forces were subjected to court-martial. Even some who resisted valiantly in Diu were considered for posthumous  award  and  most were admitted for pension only in  2003, nearly three decades after the restoration of democracy in 1974.
Diogo Roque has sifted through most published memoirs of the detainees, and has checked them  against primary archival sources as well as interviews with many ex-POWs still living and willing to talk about their experiences. Very important is the use of archival sources, including reports of  the  Portuguese officers in-charge of the detention camps, collaborating with the Indian authorities managing the camps.  These reports are now preserved in Portugal.  Also the PIDE (Portuguese security  police) reports are preserved at the Portuguese National Archives in Lisbon and  have been tapped.
The study refers to  Krishna Menon’s initiative in constituting a task force under chairmanship of the general D.K.Palit to prepare a plan for invasion of Goa on short notice.  General Palit is cited to confirm that some uncooperative Goan officers were arrested. Valmiki Faleiro revealed to us recently the identity of the Goans officers in operational command of  the Operation Vijay, but we know little about those who opted out or were kept out.
Some publications by Goan authors do not figure in the Bibliography. Among these Leo Lawrence’s Nehru Seizes Goa (1963), which contains important clues for understanding the background of the conflict, but needs to be used with utmost caution. This Goan served as Portuguese political agent to muster support among the Goans in Bombay through the Luso-Indian Institute.
When expelled by the Indian authorities from Bombay Leo  was appointed assistant director of Information and Tourism in Goa. He chaperoned the foreign journalists invited by the Portuguese government to report on Indian threat of military action. Before the annexation  of Goa to India, Leo Lawrence moved to Portugal and served for nearly two decades  in the Portuguese Foreign Affairs Ministry,  promoting campaigns aimed at denouncing India’s occupation of Goa.
There are other interesting publications that the young researcher could  tap. The biographical notes of Pascoal Menezes, published as Once More Upon a Time, wherein Pascoal refers to Portuguese decision to return the gold shifted to Portugal by BNU. Tells us that the BNU officials who came to Goa in 1991 brought also a letter for him. They remembered with gratitude a payment of Rs. 5000 made by Pascoal Menezes to buy the political freedom of five BNU managers in 1961. The letter promised to help Pascoal Menezes during his visits to Lisbon. We are told that he tested the promise more than once and did not find it wanting.
Diogo Roque tells us that  with the exception of a single Goan police officer  among the POWs, most others accepted the Indian offer of freedom and integration in the Indian police service. 
The study quotes Portuguese claims that Goans enjoyed equal rights of citizenship as any metropolitan Portuguese, but seems unaware that the Portuguese major-general Pezarat Correia,  who served in Goa as a commander of a Portuguese volunteer force sent in 1954, wrote that Goans enjoyed no such equality. They were not bound by compulsory military service as the Portuguese citizens were. For him Goa was protected by Portuguese forces of occupation.
To conclude, one more interesting aside is that several Portuguese POWs wanting to marry Goan women  were refused permission by the Indian authorities to do so. Would they be marriages of convenience? We are told that the white Portuguese POWs did not seem to like the natives imprisoned along with them and often looked at them as Indian spies. 

Sem comentários: