July 11, 2004 -Travesty appears to have been partially reversed

October 3, 2005 - The Travesty returns !!

The Travesty at Anjediva!

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The Church of Nossa Senhora das Brotas: Pilgrims to be denied access  by the Indian Navy!

UPDATE: July 11, 2004


From: godfrey gonsalves <gonsalvesgodfreyji@y...>
Date: Sun Jul 11, 2004 8:15 am
Subject: INDIAN NAVY permits visits to ANJEDIV FORT/CHURCH

It is now finaly clear . The Navy has permitted (albeit with security considerations) the visit to the Island and celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Springs (Nossa Senhora da Brotas) on 2nd February, at Anjediv Island (near Karwar) off the coast of Canacona Goa.

Rear Admiral Shekar Sinha who took over as Flag Officer Commanding Goa Area on 16.4.2004 announced last Saturday.

It may be recalled that following an order from then Commander Sea Bird, Cmdr S S Rao not to permit visits to the Island since May 2003 in "view of security reasons" the faithful had not relented but succeeded in visiting the Island in February 2004 for the Feast.

Thanks to the timely good sense of Cmdr S S Karnik present Station Commander Sea Bird who took over in November 2003. Over 750 people from Goa partook in the Feast but were peeved by the biased stand of the Sea Bird officials not to permit Hindus from Karwar, Sirsi and other adjoining areas to partake in the festivities even though traditionally the entire Karwar partook in the festivities.

It is realiably learnt that the Sea Bird officials were at logger heads with the people of Binaga and Karwar who did not take kindly to their demands for providing employment for the natives of Karwar. The locals demand is genuine considering that the prime land and the beach has been taken by the Navy. The employment preference to North Indians by L& T had been the cause of dissent.

A "sit out" by Fr Britto D Silva (the main celebrant of the Feast Mass )at the Naval Gate who refused to partake in the festivities to register his protest against the
divisive attitude of the Naval officials prevented what could otherwise turn to be a volatile law and order problem on 2nd February,2004

With the present directive by Read Admiral Sinha the uncertainty has been removed. Fr Britto D Silva appeared in high spirits when the news was broken to him --" this is an occasion for rejoicing and heavenly blessings be invoked on Rear Admiral Sinha " he remarked speaking to this writer.

Though the Church at Anjediva comes within the jurisdiction of the Navy this Island has NOT been ceded to the Navy yet by an Act of Parliament and technically and legally it continues to be reflected as a Revenue area of Canacona Taluka in Goa on the Revenue records. This issue needs to be resolved by the Centre.

The Church at Anjediva has been built in 1502 much before the Taj Mahal and the now demolished Babri Masjid Mosque. It was built even before St Francis Xavier was born.
The Church bears the Insignia awarded by Rome as the Mother Church. Besides its significance to Christianity being the Island on which the Portuguese built the first Church it has also a monument atop the hill in memory of the seven Indian Army soldiers who were killed on 22nd December,1961 as the Portuguese on the Island were unaware that Goa was
Liberated on 19.12.1961.

Rear Admiral Sinha (NM*Bar) has promised better relations in matters of civil aviation with Dabolim and Mopa issues antagonising the natives and expartriates of Goa. He has appreciated the scope of Tourism as a growing Industry and hence the change in mind set of the Navy to maintain a close liaison with the civilians wherever.

With the dicentennial 43 days Exposition of the remains of St Francis Xavier from 21 November 2004 to 2nd January 2005 and the IFFI as two red letter days in this State and for India as well it is hoped that the Naval authorities will have an opportunity to visit the Memorial atop the Island and the Church which has since been repaired (roof) by the Navy on 18 May 2004 as per the terms of the agreement in 1987 with the Goa Government when the Island was handed over. There are 44 canons as well and the Directorate of Archaeology and Museum would do well to either collect the same or ensure that they are prominently displayed in a ruined structured which can be restored by the Navy and kept for visiting tourists from India and abroad.

The Island can be accessed from Goa via Karwar by land or rail on the NH 17 from there at the Officers (Sea Bird ) Gate a drive in on a two km causeway takes one to this historical site. The earlier detour one would have to take from the Karwar Port north seaward of one hour in trawlers and then on to a canoe to the Island is now not required.

In April 2002 the Chief Minister of Goa Mr Manohar Parrikar had himself donated Rs.25,000 (Rupees twenty five thousand ) for some temporary repairs of the Church.

It was then Defence Minister George Fernandes who was misled by Cmdr S S Rao that temples were shifted from the island which was
a blatant lie, as proved with documentary evidence by this writer on an in situ investigations and interaction with Sea Bird officials

Ultimately representations made by to the President of India the former PM and the present PM Dr Manmohan Singh by this writer appears to have vindicated our stand that the Island indeed has a historical significance to Goa.

Unfortunately the muted (inaction) and neglect by the then Archbishop Dr Raul Niclau Gonsalves Archdiocese of Goa & Daman resulted in the ruins of the Chapel of St Francis de Assisi whose feast was celebrated on 4 October every year and a similar fate would have befallen the Church of Lady of Springs had it not been for the enthusiasm support of the people (including numerous Hindus ) of Karwar Sirsi and Binaga and relentless efforts of Fr Britto D Silva the Parish Priest of St Annes Church Binaga and the earlier Parish Priest Fr Kurien since 1983 who earned the sobriquet of "Anjedivacho Pisso"

Borda Margao Goa (INDIA)



For the record:

One of the Oldest Roman Catholic Churches in the East is set for desecration by the Indian Navy!

Chip by Chip, the religious bigots are tearing down Catholicism in India!

One has to wonder why the Indian army really marched into Goa on December 19, 1961. Was it really in defence of Freedom for the people of Goa? or was it really for something else? e.g. Goa's immense mineral wealth, Goa's tremendous tourism potential and the sagging electoral fortunes of the Nehru Congress Party.

We look back 40 years and see what has happened.

There have been many positives e.g. Education, Rural electrification, Improved telecommunications and of course, the end of Portuguese Colonialism.

But, and we need to seriously ask this question,  Has Portuguese Colonialism effectively  been replaced by an Indian variation?

Let us be upfront, TGF does not accept the "Goa could not have been a separate entity as it is contiguous with India and therefore has always been part of India" bit.

To those who consistently chant that mantra, we say "Please tell us HOW India can justify its continued presence in the Andaman Islands?" Are the Andaman Islands contiguous with India?

As far as TGF is concerned, India is a colonial power in the Andaman Islands. Please look at the map and history of the Islands.

TGF's position is that the 'contiguous' argument makes no sense. It is as worthless as a politician's election time promise.  Hence TGF will ignore it.

Goa is now irreversibly a part of India. No sensible Goan, in 2002,  will have it any other way.

However, bit by bit,  New Delhi has been chipping away at Goa. First it was the Dabolim civilian airport that was converted into a military airport, followed by the Beach front  that has been, and continues to be raped by the concrete jungle called "tourist facilities"; not to forget jobs at all Goa Government offices that have been denied to appropriately qualified Goans.

Since 1961, Goa continues to become  infested by crime, corruption, filth and chaos; most of which appears to have been imported from outside Goa, or encouraged by events at the centre in New Delhi.

For the record, despite 55 years of Independence from the British and huge surpluses of grain and dollars, India is sliding from one multi-billion dollar scam into another. All this while the infra-structure for basic health and welfare has gone to the dogs, err to the flies.

Now comes a new shock to the Goan system.

The OLDEST Catholic Church with Goan links has been declared out of bounds for worshippers after May, 2003.

The Goan Catholics who go on an annual pilgrimage have NOT even been afforded the decency of an open consultation. What the Indian Navy wanted to do, they did and will continue to do.

Some Democracy, Some Freedom from colonialism, Some Liberation this!

The Anjediva fait accompli, TGF submits, is NOT an action of an India which came to Liberate Goa from the clutches of the Portuguese Colonialists.  This can ONLY be understood as an action of an INVADING force which is now continuing to behave as it pleases.

Those among us who watch international conflicts know full well how pretexts are used to commence military action. TGF has not one iota of doubt that Anjediva was just a pretext for the Indian military walk into Goa!

That however is history! TGF understands it and accepts it as ancient history. The matter would have been stored in the shelves of irreversible history albeit under the title : Fake Excuses to justify Military Actions,  but then comes this one more blow to Goan sensitivities.

Despite ALL the protests and the pleading from the Heritage Groups, TGF predicts that the Indian Navy will NOT change its mind.  It has never done so in the past and is unlikely to do so in the future!

With the central  & Goa Governments in the hands of the Hindu Nationalist BJP,  and with the present Defence Minister being George Fernandes, a disgruntled former Jesuit seminarian who has an unmistakable chip about Goans (Fernandes is a Mangalorean with severe socialist leanings),  TGF expects the process to go ahead, come what may!

The wishes of the affected Goans could literally go to Hell!

Stay tuned however, for  "civil servant" type explanations and misinformation.


August 18, 2002


Navy to ban pilgrims of Anjediva church in May 2003
September 1, 2002


PANAJI: It's defence vs devotion at the Church of Nossa Senhora das Brotas (Our Lady of Springs) at Anjediva Island, 4 km south of Karwar. Come May 2003, Anjadip, as the Indian Navy calls the island, will be barred from entry as it is part of Project Seabird.

This spells the beginning of the end for thousands of devotees from Karwar, Goa and surrounding areas, who made two pilgrimages a year — every February and October — to celebrate feasts on the island. A trek that culminates in crossing the waters from Binaga in Karwar in small boats, then walking to the church lying in isolated splendour.

Dating back five centuries, the church is as old as the Portuguese advent into Goa in 1510. Steeped in history, it is likely to be forgotten once the biannual visits come to an end.

For the Indian Navy, it has become a place of strategic importance, just as it did for the great Lusitanian explorers, including Vasco da Gama, who anchored here on September 24, 1498.

Otherwise out-of-bounds to civilians, Anjadip has been an exception for the devotees, but that is likely to end too.  "Defence needs," Project Seabird Station Commander B R Rao told The Times of India at Karwar.

Detailing the works being carried out to join the island to Binaga by a road in the sea, he explained the ground situation and the decision not to allow visitors. The Navy was as much interested in the historic significance of the Church and acknowledged its archaeological importance, he added.

The Goa Heritage Action Group and All India Catholic Union (AICU) have pleaded with the Navy not to stop people from praying at the church, and that they can be screened before entry. They have also pleaded that this historical site be maintained.

The issue has also found voice in the Goa Assembly. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently granted Rs 25,000 for urgent repairs to the church. Appeals have been made to Defence Minister George Fernandes to let the Navy maintain the church, or alternatively, examine the feasibility of re-locating the church by its archaeology department.

Opposition leader Pratapsinh Rane, during whose tenure as chief minister the island was handed over to the Navy, said relocating the church was possible, as a temple was similarly relocated. But researcher Godfrey Gonsalves disagrees, quoting land revenue and survey records lying in South Goa District Collectorate, says Anjediva Island came under Canacona taluka and the church and property around it under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.

Owing its proximity to Binaga, Karwar, the Bishop of Karwar had been entrusted with the conduct of its activities, who in turn asked the parish priest of St Anne's Church, Binaga, to look after the church activities.

It was at Anjediva that Vasco da Gama brushed aside the challenge of Adil Shah's chieftain Thimmayya and captured his Jewish interpreter, who was converted and named Gaspar da Gama. Vasco da Gama again stopped here in 1502, during his second foray.

In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral, leading the second Portuguese expedition, built a modest chapel here. Fr Henrique de Coimbra and eight other Franciscans celebrated Goa's first mass, but in due course, the structure fell victim to the vagaries of the monsoons.

Anjediva was a key defence establishment of the Portuguese, besides being a watering hole for the Greeks, Arabs, Egyptians, Portuguese merchant ships, and pirates in later times


Lying in ruins on Anjediva Island - the Church of St. Francis of Assisi


Access to Anjediva Church to be Blocked

Alexandre Moniz Barbosa,  Jul 12, 2002

Very soon, if the Indian Navy has its way, Christians won’t be able to visit the Anjediva island any more. Construction activity is in progress at the North breakwater starting from Binaga point which will be connected to Anjediva Island.

Since the construction activity includes construction of very sensitive facilities the Navy, keeping the nation’s security in mind, has deemed that it will not be possible to permit visitors to Anjediva Island beyond May, 2003. They have written a letter to The President of the Catholic Association of Goa, with a request to make necessary arrangements to shift the church from Anjediva Island by May 2003 as visitors will not be permitted to Anjediva Island after that.

The Church of Nossa Senhora das Brotas (Our Lady of Springs) on the Island of Anjediva has got tremendous archeological significance being one of the oldest churches and the site where the first Christian conversion took place.

The present church was built in 1729, but an earlier church existed on the spot where in 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral leading the second Portuguese expedition landed. It was here that in August 1500, Fr. Henrique de Coimbra and eight other Franciscans celebrated Goa’s first mass.

Sometimes referred to as the foundation stone of Christianity in the East, the church draws visitors every year in February and in October for the feasts. Pilgrims have to hitch a ride on a trawler from Binaga and wade in knee deep water to reach the island, yet many make the pilgrimage.

The island was handed over to the navy in 1991 for expansion of their seabird project.

The church is a heritage landmark and hence needs to be preserved.

Alexandre Moniz Barbosa



The Church of Nossa Senhora das Brotas (Our Lady of Springs) on the Island of
Anjediva has got tremendous archeological significance being one of the
oldest churches and the site where the first Christian conversion took place.
The present church was built in 1729, but an earlier church existed on the
spot where in 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral leading the second Portuguese
expedition landed. It was here that in August 1500, Fr. Henrique de Coimbra
and eight other Franciscans celebrated Goa's first mass.

They landed on the island on August 22, 1500 and soon built a makeshift
chapel which gave way to a modest church which fell to the vagaries of the
monsoon. Anjediva was a key defence establishment of the Portuguese with the Fort of Our Lady of Bortas. At the zenith of its glory around 1768, Anjediva
had a governor with his own staff and 350 men. It's importance waned around 1843 after which it was abandoned.

It was on this island that Vasco da Gama anchored on September 24, 1498. He brushed aside the challenge of Adil Shah's chieftain Thimmayya and captured his Jewish interpreter who was converted and given the name of Gaspar da Gama. Vasco da Gama again stopped here in 1502 during his second Eastern foray. It was from Anjediva that in 1510, Afonso de Albuquerque launched his attack for the recapture of Goa.

Anjediva is the burial place of the first British Governor-designate of Bombay General Abraham Shipman. Melo e Castro's refusal to hand over Bombay which had been given in dowry to England, compelled Shipman to seek shelter on the island in 1622 where he died and was buried.

Anjediva is two and a half square kilometres and lies four kilometres south of Karwar. It was a major watering hole for Greek, Arab, Egyptian and Portuguese merchant ships, besides pirates and in latter times smugglers.

Sometimes referred to as the foundation stone of Christianity in the East,  the church draws visitors every year in February and in October for the feasts. Pilgrims have to hitch a ride on a trawler from Binaga and wade in  knee-deep water to reach the island, yet many make the pilgrimage.  The island was handed over to the navy in 1991 for expansion of their seabird project.

Given the historical importance of the church it is imperative that some access to the church has to be made available, with the Navy imposing security measures. The church can also be considered a heritage landmark and hence deserves to be preserved.


SEND US AN E MAIL : "hetapandit@rediffmail.com ... (hetapandit)" TO LET US KNOW YOU CARE.


Godfrey Gonsalves, Aug 18, 2002

The anxiety and deep concern
over letter SB/K/2005 dated 4.7.2002 from Commodore B. R. Rao Station Commander Sea Bird Project (under Defence Ministry) addressed to President, Catholic Association of Goa , Panaji, Goa. (India) to make necessary arrangements to shift the, Church from Anjadiv Islands by May 2003, and that no further permission will be granted to the religious faithful to visit the Island and celebrate the Feast on 2nd February, after May 2003, was voiced in the Goa Legislative Assembly during " zero hours" by the lone woman representative of the Goa Legislative Assembly and Santa Cruz (Tiswadi) MLA Ms. Victoria Fernandes.

As per the news reports on all the local and some national dailies, the BJP, Chief Minister of Goa Mr. Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar, who had during the last term graciously granted Rs.25000 (Rupees twenty five thousand only) for urgent repairs of the precariously damaged roof before the monsoons; stated that an appeal had been made to the Union Defence,Minister Mr. George Fernandes, to either let the Naval authorities maintain the church or alternatively he has the Department of Archaeology to examine the feasibility of re-locating the Church.

Former Chief Minsiter and MLA of Curtorim (Francisco Sardinha) strongly objected and demanded that visitors should be allowed subject to stringent security checks if necessary.

Former Chief Minister and present Leader of the Opposition (Indian National Congress) Mr Pratapsing Raoji Rane however who transferred the Island without compensation during his tenure, agreed with relocating the Church as suggested on the grounds that another temple which existed was similarly relocated.

This is incorrect.

The Goa Government could check from the land revenue and survey records held in the South Goa District Collectorate, wherein Anjediv Island 37,0032 hectares came under Canacona Taluka, and the Church and property around is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Goa & Daman,( though owing to its proximity i.e close to Binaga Karwar the Bishop of Karwar has been entrusted with the conduct of activities, who in turn has asked the Parish Priest (presently Fr. Britto D Silva) of St. Annes Church Binaga 4 kms from Anjediv to look after the church activities ), that there was no temple on the Island after the Portuguese advent in 1498 and thereafter even at the time the Goa Government in 1989 conditionally transferred the Island.

The fact however is that there was a Shiva temple at Binaga, Karwar not on the Anjediv Island, and after the Naval authorities acquired the land for the Sea Bird Project, the residential houses and temple were removed from the acquired land and reconstructed at an alternative location.

For Goa, the Anjediv Islands Church is historic for reasons as under

a) it was built in 1500 and is the first Latin rite Church built in Asia, nearly 150 years before the Taj Mahal was built;

b) before the birth of St Francis Xavier (1506)

c) a fisherman Rajaram Kochrekar was shot dead by the Portuguese army in October 1961 and subsequently in November, 1961 the Portuguese army fired upon the passenger vessel ss. Sabarmati, which resulted in the final armed struggle and Liberation of Goa on 19.12.1961.

The Portuguese army on the Island was not aware of Liberation of Goa and killed 7 Indian soldiers until the Island was Liberated on 22.12.1961.

d) A martyrs memorial is placed atop the Fort on the Island in commemoration of the same.

e) The Chapel of St. Francis de Assisi whose feast was celebrated on 4th October every year is now lying in ruins.

There are three other islands in close proximity of Anjediv Kurumgad Madlingad and Devbaug. At Devbag the feast of Lord Narasimha is celebrated in January at forenoon and afternoon the festivitesare carried on the landside Karwar.

The following orders of Goa Govt letter No:16/6/84-RD dated 09/ 08/87, letter No:16/6/89-RD dated 19/05/89, Revenue Dept South Goa District Colllector Order No:45/1/87/RSV dt 09/12/87, Order No:45/1/89/RSV dt 26/07/1989Govt of Goa Notification No:02/86/82-HD(G) dated 27.12.89 and correspondence exchanged by the Office of Archbishop Patriach of Goa Daman, with Office of the Chief of Naval Staff , Naval Headquarters New Delhi No:CP/261/2000dated 02/03/2000 and CNS/SB/2005 dated 02/04/2000, clearly sets a condition that the Naval authorities will maintain the ancient Church in its pristine condition and allow the faithful for celebrating the feasts under security conditions.

This writer who along with the Parish Priest of St. Annes Church Binaga, was given an audience by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Goa on 8/8/2002 remain confident that the Chief Minister now having been provided with the wherewithal would re-examine the issue and ensure that the order of Station Commander is withdrawn and the Naval authorities will be asked to look after the Church and all the old canons and other artillery on the Island.

Similarly the His Grace, Archbishop of Goa and Daman Msgr. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves, during our meeting the same day, expressed concern over the issue and will be constituting a committee of well meaning persons both from Karwar and Goa to pursue the issue with the Central and Goa Government and ensure that the heritage structure is maintain with due respect.

It is the appeal of this writer for the Goans world over on the occasion of World Goa Day to highlight the issue of this Anjediva church the first before the oldest Church in Goa viz; St. Monica Church was built to demand that the church be maintained and visitors be permitted to celebrate the Feast of Nossa Senhora de Brotas every 2nd February, Godfrey J. I. onsalves,B-F-4, 1st Floor, Hillside Apts St. Joaquim Road, Borda Margao, Goa


More viewpoints on Page 2


to access  Jorge de Abreu Noronha's: In defense of Our Heritage  click here

to return to The Liberation of Goa debate on TGF click here

to return to Religion and Society articles on View from the Beach click here


Igreja and Ruins photographs courtesy Jorge de Abreu Noronha, a Goan Catholic pilgrim who has traveled all the way from Lisbon to Anjediva - braving the difficult waters of the Arabian Sea.

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