18 Jun 2015 01:31am IST
While Dr Ram Manohar Lohia is remembered for his role in the events of June 18, 1946, his host in Goa and the man who accompanied Lohia to jail, Dr Julião Menezes remains forgotten. Herald digs into the archives to unearth Dr Menezes
ASSOLNA: As the rest of the State celebrates June 18, as ‘Goa Revolution Day’ and everyone rightly praises the contribution of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Goa seems to have forgotten the role of another man, a son of the soil, Dr Julião Menezes.
Born in Assolna, Menezes after completing his studies in Goa, attended Berlin University in the 1920s and graduated in medicine. It was there that he met Lohia, who was studying at the same University. He took active part in the Indian Students’ Union in Berlin, along with Lohia who was the secretary of the Union.
It is believed that the two even attended a session of the League of Nations in Geneva in the 1930s, where they booed the Maharaja of Bikaner, a representative of India, who was talking about peace and were subsequently thrown out from the gallery.
Menezes returned to Goa in 1938 and worked with the Clube de Assolna where he tried to spread rationalist thinking and nationalist activities. However, after several of his attempts were met with opposition, he shifted to Bombay in 1939 where he founded the Gomantak Praja Mandal, and started a bilingual weekly Gomantak (Konkani and English) in 1942.
Lohia and Menezes remained in contact and Menezes even provided him shelter after the ‘Do or Die’ call given by Mahatma Gandhi. It is believed that Lohia wanted to hide in Goa but decided against it following counselling by Menezes who was worried that British agents were active in Goa as well. The two met again in 1946 after Lohia’s release from prison in Lahore where he was taken after his arrest in Mumbai. Lohia had visited Menezes for a medical examination in Bombay where the latter advised the former that he rest and invited him to his house in Assolna.
Accepting the invitation, Lohia arrived in Goa on June 10, 1946 and stayed at the residence of Menezes at Assolna, where the two stalwarts discussed the situation prevailing in Goa during that period and decided to defy the ban on public meetings imposed by the Portuguese Government. This was the first civil disobedience movement against the then 435-year-old Portuguese rule. The news of Lohia’s arrival spread among Goans and Menezes’ place in Assolna became the meeting place for Goan intellectuals and political activists, who wanted to consult Lohia and Menezes.
On June 15, 1946, Menezes and Lohia addressed a gathering of the people in Panjim but the police did not intervene and stop the meeting even as they were posted at the place where the meeting took place. Buoyed with the success of the meeting, the two entered Margao square in a horse carriage on June 18 with thousands of men and women welcoming them and chanting their names “Dr Lohia-ki Jai! Dr Julião Menezes-ki-Jai!”.
Failing to control the crowd and with fear of unrest, both of them were arrested and taken to Panjim police station at night.
There were protests the following day in Margao and the police failed to disperse the crowd that continued to shout slogans demanding the release of Lohia and Menezes. The freedom movement had received a boost and people were taking on the police. One can say that the freedom struggle began at Menezes’ residence.
In the end that day, Menezes was released and Lohia was driven outside Goa and set free. After returning to Bombay, Menezes continued to agitate through his paper and also published a book – Goa’s Freedom Struggle (1947).
Today there is no mention of Menezes, who not only started the movement, but also penned down the freedom struggle of Goa.