In the heart of Panjim lies one of its most famous roads. A favourite shopping location for both locals and tourists alike, 18th June Road is home to a lot of shops known for their fantastic wares. And like most of the main roads in Goa, its history is well-known. Today, the 18th of June, the state celebrates an important day, Goa Revolution Day. And if not for two brave individuals, we would not even have this day to celebrate.
The men responsible for making 18th June, Goa Revolution Day an important one in history
18th June, Goa Revolution Day will forever be an important part of Goa’s history. On 18th June 1946 at Margao, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, and Dr Julião Menezes started the civil disobedience movement against Salazar’s dictatorial regime. These two men were responsible for starting a revolution that eventually got Goa her civil liberties that had been taken away. They lit the torch of freedom from the Portuguese rule on 18th June 1946 at Margao which resulted in Goa’s liberation on 19th December 1961. But what do we really know about Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Dr Julião Menezes?
Dr Ram Manohar Lohia
Dr Ram Manohar Lohia was born on 23 March 1910 in Akbarpur which eventually came to be Uttar Pradesh in North India. Born to a prosperous Vaishya family, he was raised by his father from the age of two, after his mother died. He studied in Bombay(now Mumbai), Varanasi, and Calcutta, finally ending up at the prestigious Frederick William University (today’s Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. He was such an outstanding student that he received financial aid studying National Economy as his major subject as a doctoral student from 1929 to 1933.
Dr Lohia, later on, became an activist for the Indian independence movement and a socialist political leader. Towards the end of the British Raj, he worked with the Congress Radio which was broadcast secretly from various places in Bombay until 1942. And together with Dr Julião Menezes, he was instrumental in ensuring that Goa too got her freedom from the dictator Salazar’s regime.
Dr Julião Menezes
While Dr Lohia wasn’t a Goan, he fought for Goa’s independence. But he wasn’t the only one. Not much is heard or known about Dr Julião Menezes who was also an important part of Goa gaining freedom from the Portuguese.
Hailing from Assolna in South Goa, this son of the soil played a major part in Goa Revolution Day. He studied in Goa after which he went to Berlin in the 1920s and graduated in medicine. And Berlin was where he met Dr Lohia who was the then secretary of the Union. It was a friendship that would play a great part in Goa’s history.
When Dr Menezes returned to Goa, he worked with the Clube de Assolna and tried spreading rationalist thinking and nationalist activities. But Goa was not ready for it, and he faced a lot of opposition. He then moved to Bombay in 1939 and founded the Gomantak Praja Mandal. Dr Menezes also started a bilingual weekly Gomantak (Konkani and English) in 1942.
Through it all, he and Dr Lohia stayed in contact and he even invited Dr Lohia to his home in Assolna to rest after a medical examination he performed on the former. Accepting the invitation, Dr Lohia came to Goa in 1946. It was during the visit that the two sat and discussed Goa’s situation and made plans to turn things around.
Planning the civil disobedience movement
While recuperating at Dr Menezes’s home, the two men made their plans to start the civil disobedience movement in Goa. They started with going against the ban on public meetings imposed by the Portuguese regime. It would be the first time anyone had started such a movement while the Portuguese ruled Goa. When people sharing the same sentiments came to know Dr Lohia was in Goa, Menezes’s home was visited non-stop by people wanting to meet the two men.
In what was possibly the first public meeting, on June 15th, 1946, both gentlemen addressed a crowd in Panjim. While police were stationed at the meeting, they did not intervene or stop the gathering. Carried by this success, Drs. Lohia and Menezes then held one in Margao on the 18th of June, which would later become Goa Revolution Day. They were greeted by thousands, shouting, “Dr Lohia-ki Jai! Dr Julião Menezes-ki-Jai!”. This time, however, the authorities did intervene and both were arrested and imprisoned at the Panjim jail.
The people had developed the courage to see things through
But the people that had gathered for the meeting had been given a taste of what could be. They refused to back down and the police could not get them to disperse nor to stop chanting slogans demanding the release of the two men.
Ultimately, both men were released that day but Dr Lohia was taken out of Goa and set free. Dr Menezes went back to Bombay and continued to make waves through his newspaper. He also published a book – Goa’s Freedom Struggle (1947).
And it is thanks to them that 18th June became known as Goa Revolution Day and Goa finally regained her civil liberties. Yet, there is still no mention of Dr Julião Menezes today even though it can be said that the freedom movement began at his residence in Assolna.
Also, read How did 18th June Road get its name?