Goa was liberated by the Indian Army on December 19, 1961. However, this was not achieved without a long struggle by Goan nationalists, who are referred to as freedom fighters. Here's a rough outline of the various phases of the movement:
The struggle to get the Portuguese out of Goa started in 1550 with resistance put up by the inhabitants of Assolna, Velim, Cuncolim, Veroda and Ambelim, in South Goa. Much later, in 1787, the native clergy revolted -- in protest of racial discrimination and this conspiracy was known as the Pinto Conspiracy or Revolt of the Native Clergy.
There were also some uprisings, led by the local chieftains, the Ranes, as well as a rebellion by the native army stationed in Goa in 1871. This could be termed as the first phase of the struggle.
The second phase of the movement can be considered from the time the Goa Congress Committee was established by Dr Tristao Braganca Cunha in 1928, which was affiliated to the Indian National Congress, at its Calcutta Session. Unfortunately, it was de-recognised in 1934 on the grounds that it functioned in a territory under alien rule.
In 1938, Dr Juliao Menezes led an upsurge in the villages of Assolna, Cuncolim and Velim. Nationalists in Bombay (now Mumbai) formed the Goan Youth League, in 1945, in order to inspire the Goan youth to participate actively in the Freedom Movement. This marked the end of the second stage.
The last stage begins with Dr Ram Manohar Lohia who, on June 18, 1946, launched a movement in Goa for civil liberties by defying the ban on public meetings at Margao. This set in motion the subsequent mass movement for freedom from Portuguese rule.
In August 1946, various political groups in Goa united to form the National Congress (Goa) at a session at Londa to carry forward the movement, and R Ram Hegde was elected the first President.
The last stage also saw violent activities by militant organizations for the freedom of Goa. The Azad Gomantak Dal, led by Advocate V N Lawande, was set up in April 1947. It was during this stage that many volunteers were arrested by the Portuguese authorities and some deported, while others were imprisoned at Aguada Jail, and many lost their lives during the struggle.
ABOUT THE MEMORIAL
The Martyr's Memorial, in Panaji, was built by the Freedom Fighters’ Association in memory of those who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom. In its publication on the occasion of the inauguration of the memorial, titled Goa Freedom Struggle: A Window on Events, the names of the martyrs are published and the introduction says that those whose names are given on the memorial are martyrs of the last phase (1946-1961) of the Freedom Movement.
Some of them were sons of the soil, witness to the humiliation heaped by the Portuguese on the population and of the repression, unleashed to preserve what the Portuguese believed was their own. Others were from all parts of India whose sight had never glanced this beautiful land, but were moved only by the desire to wipe out the last vestiges of colonialism from the face of their motherland. Most of them were young, in the prime of life, with a future before them. It was their honour to die for a noble cause.
The Martyr's Memorial was designed by architect Ralino J de Sousa, and the construction engineers were S Y Gadgil and Audhut Kamat. It was inaugurated on March 23, 1973 by Gen K P Kandeth, who led the military forces and was the first military Governor of liberated Goa. The memorial is 14 m high and the top is shaped like an open lotus. The flowers have gained importance and reverence in most religions in India. In Buddhism, the lotus symbolizes the law of universal causes and effects that rules all phenomena. The lotus was selected for this memorial to show universal brotherhood.
It rests on a base and there is a column with the names of the martyrs. The role of honour has 67 names, and many of them are from across the border, including from HP, AP, UP, MP, Rajasthan, West Bengal.
The funds required to build the memorial came from donations invited by the Freedom Fighters’ Association.