Margao: Five veteran freedom fighters were felicitated at ‘Deepotsav’ organized here by citizens of the city on the occasion of Liberation Day on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat said,’ It is my fortune that today on this auspicious occasion of 60th Goa Liberation day, I get an opportunity to felicitate the five jewels who struggled hard, faced imprisonment and torture from the Portuguese regime. It is only and only because of the braveheart freedom fighters that our pristine Goa could get reunited with Mother India on 19th December 1961.’
‘It is unfortunate that the government completely ignored the heroes of the freedom struggle and did not find it important to invite them for the function attended by the President of India. I strongly condemn this act of the government whose focus is only on extravaganza spending crores,’ Kamat said.
The freedom fighters who were felicitated included Pandurang Kuncolienkar, Gajanan Raikar, Shashikala Hodarkar Almeida, Gopal Chitari, and Vaman Prabhugaonkar.
Thinkar Datta Damodar Nayak said, ‘Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru needs to be remembered for his immense contribution to Goa. Today, some sections are deliberately trying to malign his image. Panditjis statue needs to be erected in Goa.’
Freedom fighter Pandurang Kuncolienkar said, ‘Today is one of the most memorable days in my life. I am feeling humbled to get felicitated at this historic place under the feet of Pioneer of Goa freedom struggle Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. This honor is most prestigious for me when our Motherland Goa is entering its 60th year of Liberation.’
‘I along with my freedom fighter colleagues are feeling hurt with the approach adopted by the government of completely side-lining us from the function at Panjim today in the presence of President of India. I regret to state that this government has a different agenda and ulterior motives in organizing the said function,’ Kuncolienkar said.
‘We fought bravely against the Salazar regime of the Portuguese. Some of our colleagues laid their lives in the Goa liberation struggle, but it is sad that today even the government does not find it important to invite us for the very function, which could take place because of the freedom fighters. I am extremely saddened to note that the chief minister remembered us yesterday late night,’ freedom fighter and former MLA Gajanan Raikar said
Freedom fighter Gopal Chitari said,’ It is the bounden duty of any government to preserve the historical monuments. Unfortunately, this very place where Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia lit the flame of Goa Liberation with his Revolution on 18th June 1946 is neglected by the government. I appeal to the government to immediately take up the renovation work of this Lohia Maidan.’
“The government needs to help the needy and prioritize on giving timely pensions to the freedom fighters, senior citizens, and others who are dependent on government support. I regret to mention here that when the government is spending crores of rupees on the function at Panjim, I along with other freedom fighters did not receive my pension for the last month,’ freedom fighter Shashikala Hodarkar Almeida said.
“Today my age is 83 years. I have only one wish for seeing this historic place renovated. I appeal to the government to ensure that the renovation work of this glorious Lohia Maidan is taken up on topmost priority,’ freedom fighter Vaman Prabhugaonkar said.
The entire Lohia Maidan was lit with candles and tributes were paid to the Martyrs Memorial, the statue of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, and the freedom fighters.