Freedom fighters from Saligao

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Goa, like the rest of India, had its fair share of the fight for freedom and Goan freedom fighters matched up to their counterparts in the rest of India in terms of zeal and fervour. The freedom struggle in Goa is as old as the struggle in the rest of India, though it gained mass momentum in Goa in June 1946 when Dr Ram Mahohar Lohia, the noted Socialist leader, plunged himself into it along with a large number of young Goans.  The last 15 years of the freedom struggle of Goa were full of oppression, tyranny and atrocity of the Portuguese regime.  It was ultimately destined that the Indian army march in and throw away the Portuguese and integrate Goa into the Indian Union.

Saligao had its own share in this freedom movement in Goa and the liberation of Goa, and I feel that the sacrifices made by Saligaokars to gain freedom need to be appreciated and emulated by the younger generation.  Hence I name them and give their bio-data:

Alvinho Belarmino Coelho, born in Cotula, Saligao, Bardez, Goa, on 2 December, 1919.  He is the son of Manoel Jose Coelho.  He was educated in Portuguese in the aula and did his primary schooling there and then successfully passed the Matriculation examination. He was a member of National Congress (Goa) or NCG.  He carried out propaganda against the Portuguese Government and led the batch of Satyagrahis at Tiracol fort on 16 September 1954.  He was arrested, imprisoned and tried by the TMT or Territorial Military Tribunal and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. During the jail term he was kept in solitary confinement for 20 days.  He was released after four years and eight months’ imprisonment. He was awarded the Tamrapatra by the Government of India. After the liberation of Goa he became a member of the Indian National Congress. Among his associates were Anthony Fernandes and Anastacio Almeida. After the liberation of Goa he worked as Panchayat Secretary (1963-64) and was engaged in farming activity.

Next is Celina Olga Moniz from Cotula, Saligao. She was born in Mombasa, Kenya on 21 October, 1926.  She was the daughter of Eusebio Francisco Moniz and was educated up to Matriculation.  She was present for various meetings held by the freedom movement and travelled along with groups of nationalists to Belgaum, Banda and Vengurla. She carried out underground nationalist work in Goa and neighbouring places, securing help and financial assistance for the movement.  She was arrested on 26 January 1955, along with Dinanath Amonkar on crossing the Mandovi from Malim to Panaji in a canoe with Tricolours in their hands. She was released in October of the same year, but suffered mental and physical abuse from the police authorities.  She migrated to Africa in 1957 and settled later in London.  She was awarded the Tamrapatra by the Central Government of India.  Her associates were Sindhutai Deshpande, Mitra Bir, Ramesh Madgaonkar, Peter Alvares and Anthony D’Souza.  She was a teacher by profession.  She has also been associated with Dr Jose Francisco Xavier Antonio Martins from Salvador do Mundo and her maternal uncle, who organised a meeting at his residence at Paitona (Salvador do Mundo) at which it was decided to launch the Satyagraha movement from 2 October 1954.

Finally, on account of the tremendous pressure from the people within the country and several African nationalists, the Government of India resorted to “Operation Vijay” to free and integrate Goa into the Indian Union in 1961 after 451 years of Portuguese rule in Goa, Daman and Diu. Goa Liberation Day is celebrated on 19th December.

Goa liberation stamp

Goa Liberation Day, Golden Jubilee commemorative stamp


5 comments on Freedom fighters from Saligao

  • Kalini P. Khandwalla

    Dear Sir/madame:
    I wanted to communicate with Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas. I have a stamp of da Gama Pinto. I am going to teach philately to children. May I have his e-mail contact please? He seems to write on a number of interesting topiocs on Goa. I would be very obliged if I am given his contact. I am an archaeologist by profession and I teach history to children. It would be wonderful to know Goa’s history.

  • [...] to jump into the vortex of the freedom struggle in Goa and outside in self-exile. I knew two freedom fighters from Cotula in Saligao–Alvinho Belarmino Coelho and Celina Olga [...]

  • Blandi Emar De Souza

    Hello Fr Nascimento
    Read with interest your webside and input – interesting reading and heard about it through a friend.
    Wondered if the site only contained select people whom you have chosen or is there room for more ?
    Hope you are well.
    Blandi Emar De Souza

  • Meenacshi Martins

    i have current picture of Celina Olga Moniz if you are interested.

  • Julia Moniz Dsouza

    I am Celina Moniz sister. Dr Francisco Martins was our first cousin, maternal side

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