Goa’s ‘Tuberculosis’ Cunha fought colonial Portuguese cancerDecember 18th, 2011 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS
(ATTN NEWS EDITORS: This is the third and last in a series on the 50th anniversary of Goa’s liberation Dec 19, 2011. This story is about the man who mentored the freedom movement.)
By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
Panaji, Dec 18 (IANS) He is called jocularly ‘Tuberculosis’ Cunha by students of Goa’s freedom movement. But history books will vouch that Tristao de Braganza Cunha or T.B. Cunha was rightly known as the mentor of Goan nationalism and the man who spearheaded the freedom movement right from 1928.
All Goa Freedom Fighters Association (AGFFA) president Nagesh Karmali said that unveiling of Cunha’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament on Dec 19 to mark the 50th year of Goa’s liberation will be a fitting tribute, if only a little late in the day.
“He was the mentor of all us freedom fighters. I have never had the opportunity to meet him first-hand. But we used to hear about him through his writings almost every day,” said Karmali of the 1891-born, Sorbonne-educated freedom fighter, who founded the Comissão do Congresso de Goa or the Goa Congress Committee in 1928, to organize the intelligentsia against the colonial Portuguese regime.
T.B. Cunha will become the first Goan to find place in parliament’s hallowed Central Hall.
Cunha hailed from an aristocratic Portuguese family of Ligorio da Cunha, a prominent medical practitioner, and Filomena de Braganca, of Chandor, located 50 km from here. He started writing about the Goan liberation movement during his student days at Sorbonne.
After starting the Goa Congress Committee in 1928, Cunha had to later transfer his operations to Bombay (as Mumbai was then known). In 1938, facing constant harassment by the Portuguese, he affiliated his organisation with the Indian National Congress.
Karmali said that Cunha’s activities were conducted mainly outside of Goa except for the 12 years between 1926, when he arrived in the state, and 1938.
Karmali said that Cunha had a demigod-like stature among the nationalists of the state, which was enhanced after he was arrested in 1946 and kept in isolation in a dark cell at Fort Aguada, the high security prison of the Portuguese, which is now a five-star resort.
“Cunha was the first civilian to be tried by a military tribunal and was court martialed, sentenced to eight years imprisonment and deported to a Portuguese jail,” he said.
“He was imprisoned in Portugal and we in India; so there was no contact,” Karmali added.
Apart from his heroic efforts during the freedom struggle, Cunha was also a prolific writer with a steady stream of articles and books denouncing Portuguese rule flowing from his pen.
Among his publications, the most popular were “Four Hundred Years of Foreign Rule” and “The Denationalisation of Goans”.
Cunha was also an advocate of Goa’s identification, political as well as cultural, with India. He died on Sep 28, 1958. The Indian government has issued a postage stamp in his honour.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at email@example.com)
–Indo Asian news Service
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