PANAJI: Goa Daman and Diu Freedom Fighters Association has strongly opposed to the Port Minister Michael Lobo’s statement to establish a memorial at the Aguada fort/jail of persons having no link to Goa's liberation movement.
Speaking to media persons in Panaji on Tuesday, Goa Daman and Diu Freedom Fighters Association legal advisor Nagesh Karmali said that before rejuvenating the Aguada fort, a meeting was convened by the then GTDC chairman and MLA Nilesh Cabral wherein it was decided that after the remodification of Aguada fort, it should be retained as historic and a memorial of Goa's freedom struggle which ended on December 18, 1961 and that no other things except those of pre-liberation be displayed there.
According to Karmali, during the liberation movement as many as 200 prisoners were kept in the five cells of the Aguada fort from 1954 to 1961 and many were released in 1959 and the remaining few were released after liberation on December 19, 1961. Among them was freedom fighter Roque Santan Fernandes, who later was elected as MLA for three terms.
Reacting to the statement made by Ports Minister Michael Lobo to set up a memorial of some of the eminent persons in the Aguada fort, Karmali alleged these persons had no link to Goa's liberation movement and demanded that the government should not make the historic place a bazaar for memorials. The place should have monumental memorial. There were no records with the Goa government of the prisoners who were kept in the cells in Aguada fort.
“One of the archaeologist met me and collected all the authentic records of the prisoners which I had recorded in my diary”, Karmali said.
The ongoing renovation of the Aguada fort should only depict the pre-liberation era so that people who visit there know the history of freedom fighters. It should also have a sound and lights on the lines of one maintained in Delhi.
Karmali further charged that the cell where freedom fighter Dr Ram Manohar Lohia was in shambles and demanded that the government should spruce it up and convert it into a memorial.
The Freedom Fighters Association also condemned the State government for failing to provide jobs to the children of freedom fighters. He claimed that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had assured them on December 19 last year that government will provide jobs to the children of freedom fighters. But till date the government had not taken any measures in this direction.
Karmali recalled that in the past the then Chief Ministers Manohar Parrikar and Digambar Kamat had solved some of the demands/issues of the freedom fighters and had also given employment to some children of freedom fighters although the association had not demanded jobs. It was then Parrikar government who took a cabinet decision to provide jobs to children of freedom fighters, he said.
Karmali claimed that most of the States across the country had aready solved the demands of the freedom fighters including giving employment to children. But Goa was still lagging, he rued.
Karmali also gave an ultimatum to the Sawant government to solve the demands of children of freedom fighters by the next Goa Revolution Day (June 18) or else to put an end to the issue.
Goa Daman and Diu Freedom Fighters Association president Chandrakant Pednekar, vice president Ciriaco Dias, treasurer Rohidas `Dad' Dessai and members Joaquim Pinto and Shyam Sundar Kalangutkar were also present.