The much feared Agente Casimiro Monteiro of Salazar’s Portuguese times engaged in terrorising Goans.
It is not widely known that the dreaded “agente Casimiro Monteiro” of the Salazar regime returned to Goa after Liberation under Mission Namaste in 1964, and he exploded several bombs before escaping back to Portugal — where he was appointed head of the secret police force!
PORTUGAL had an able terror counterpart in Goa: PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado), the dreaded secret service police. It was brought to Goa by Governor-General Brigadier Paulo Bénard Guedes (1952-58). Guedes also brought his wife Mme Maria José Borges, a colourfully famous personage. Her visits to churches and homes in Goa inspired a feeling not of privilege but of trepidation: she gracefully plundered antiques and artefacts and sold them for giddy sums in Europe.
PIDE was created in 1945 as an autonomous secret police force under the Ministry of Home. By law No 39,749 of August 9, 1954 PIDE was reorganised and vested with overriding powers. It became an extra-constitutional monster. Portugal’s Minister for Justice Manuel Gonçalves Cavaleiro de Ferreira, resigned in protest over the law two days before its enactment. PIDE bypassed every authority, including the local governor. It had a radio transmitter in Panjim and communicated with Lisbon without the knowledge of the governor.
The PIDE agents wielded unrestrained power and committed excesses with human rights violations and extortion – both on suspects, often innocent, and political prisoners. PIDE’s most notorious torturer of political suspects was a mestiço (Luso-descendant), Casimiro Emérito Rosa Teles Jordão Monteiro, a.k.a. Agente Monteiro.
THE Goan advocate-notary Fernando Jorge Colaço in his book “December 18-19, 1961: Before, During & After” (Memoir of a 20th Century Voyager) says Casimiro Monteiro “would boast that his mother was a good Brahmin lady from Curtorim.” He was fluent in Portuguese, English and Konkani. He was a mercenary who fought for dictator Franco in the Spanish Civil War, then for the Blue Division of Nazi Germany against the USSR and, as a commando, under General Montgomery against the Germans.
He later killed a goldsmith in London. Describing him as “human only in the form,” advocate Colaço says that in Goa Monteiro lived in Santa Cruz/Kalapur and operated from Police HQ. He would roam the territory in a jeep, mostly after 10 pm with a group of guards, picking up suspects and sadistically torturing them. He even committed three or four murders and used to “beat” every woman arrested (Colaço, 2017, Pages 28-30).
“If there was one person who, more than any other, fiercely battled the freedom movement, it was the mestizo Casimiro Monteiro,” says freedom fighter Dr Suresh Kanekar. “He (Casimiro Monteiro) used a variety of crude methods of torture and harassment to gather information about the armed movement. Occasionally, innocent people were tortured into giving false confessions, and a few died after the inhuman treatment inflicted on them.
“A POIGNANTLY tragic case was that of a woman from Mapusa, Shrimati Diukar (a nurse with surgeon-freedom fighter Dr PD Gaitonde). After she was arrested and put in police custody in Panaji, Casimiro Monteiro apparently had his way with her and seduced her ex-post facto. Mitra Kakodkar (later Mitra Bir, wife of legislator Madhav Bir) was felled by Monteiro to the ground with a mighty slap one day, and she fell unconscious – because she had warned Diukar against his machinations. I heard about this from Mitra herself.” (Kanekar, 2011, Page 60).
On September 18, 1956 at about 9 pm masked men of the Azad Gomantak Dal killed policeman Jerónimo Barreto at Ardhafond-Canacona. Next morning, policemen swooped down on the nearby Partagal Matha and arrested 30 priests and students suspected of having helped the assassins. Agente Monteiro interrogated them. Two died by the same evening – head pujari Parashuram Acharya and bhatt Keshav Tengse – and their bodies were hurriedly cremated under police guard. Fifteen accused led by the dead Parashuram’s father, Srinivas Dharma Acharya – who was allegedly tortured by Casimiro Monteiro – were arraigned (one in absentia). They were charged with being “terrorists” and killing the cop. Four of the five judges at the Tribunal Militar Territorial (military court in Panjim) were army officers.
Brainy, brawny and brave, Adv. António Bruto da Costa of Margao was a pacifist at heart. At a time when few would dare, he led the solemn cortege, carried the urn and delivered a stirring oration when Gandhiji’s ashes were immersed at Colva in 1948. When provoked, he punched the daylights out of Governor Commander Quintanilha Dias in 1952. Now in 1956, advocate Bruto da Costa defended Srinivas Acharya and 11 other accused while advocate Vinayak Sinai Kaissare defended the balance two.
EXTORTION OF CONFESSION
CONDEMNING terrorism in all its forms, advocate Bruto da Costa pointedly referred to “extortion of confessions, false statements, specious denunciations and unjust accusations, made in the shadow of a true and elevated judicial regime, which is the bulwark of all well-organized societies, by misguided, impatient, violent “agentes,” easily prone to untold abuses and barbarities that are still in vogue in countries that pride themselves on being civilized.”
Dogs imported from Germany, advocate Bruto da Costa told the miffed court, need smell to follow the trail of a criminal, but the police’s nose is superior to that of dogs. Nobody had recognized the perpetrators, but the police had smelled them at Partagal Matha from thin air!
At the start of the trial, the police chief of Goa, Captain Joaquim Pinto Brás, the Mayor of Tiswadi, Dr Constâncio Mascarenhas and the editor of “Heraldo,” Álvaro de Santa Rita Vaz hosted a banquet in honor of Casimiro Monteiro and glorified him. During the trial advocate Bruto da Costa flipped and frizzled the feared agente. The Supreme Military Court in Lisbon annulled the case and ordered a re-investigation. At the retrial, all the accused were acquitted. (For more on the court proceedings of that sensational case, see “Goa: A Terceira Corrente” (Discursos, artigos, cartas e defesas forenses de António A. Bruto da Costa) by Adv. Mário Bruto da Costa, 2013, Pages 204 to 215).
On the first death anniversary of Felicio Cardoso, May 17, 2005 at Seraulim-Salcete, Goa’s inimitable and multi-lingual (Konkani, French, English, Marathi, Hindi and Portuguese) poet-laureate Dr Manoharrai Sardessai – the likes of whom Goa would be fortunate to see again – said that every wannabe Goan politician should first undergo a month’s solitary confinement at Aguada jail and taste some strokes of Agente Monteiro, as Felicio Cardoso had done (Xavier Cota, “Tribute to Felicio Cardoso – the Unassuming Giant”). Of medium height and build, Felicio Cardozo, a high school teacher by profession, was indeed a giant of a man, a dauntless freedom fighter and an upright and fearless journalist-editor who had been a victim of Casimiro Monteiro.
AZAD GOMANTAK DAL
ANOTHER Goan freedom fighter, Mário Rodrigues of Cavelossim, was an airman with the Indian Air Force in Bangalore. Influenced by the 1946 Naval Mutiny in Bombay, he left the IAF and joined the Azad Gomantak Dal in 1947 and became an underground freedom fighter. Rodrigues was determined to get Casimiro Monteiro. He roamed with a fully loaded handgun for the purpose. The firearm would not fit into his trouser pocket, so Rodrigues tucked it in his waist belt under an out/bush shirt.
Rodrigues often paid nightly visits to his friend in Margao, Nuno Rosario da Silva, whose father Raimundo Domingos da Silva possessed two shops in Margao’s old market. In one shop, Domingos made coffins (Casa Domingos, Agencia Funerária) while Rosario hired out BSA and Zundap 50cc mopeds from the other. A good part of Rosario’s clientele was Portuguese troops who during their evening break hired the bikes to go to Chandravaddo, a tribal area, for some fun.
While the soldiers frolicked at the nearby Ambajim hilltops, one of Rosario’s friends punctured tyres of their bikes parked on the road, fetching Rosario some extra income. (Rosario would eventually marry that friend’s sister, the friend would go on to become an ace motorcycle mechanic, and Rosario and Remediana’s only child, Epifanio, is a dear friend of this author.)
Possibly to get information on Portuguese military personnel, freedom fighter Rodrigues befriended and often paid nightly visits to Rosario, who slept in the coffin shop to make it a 24×7 service. One night, when Rodrigues was with Rosario at the coffin shop, they heard a PIDE ronda (armed surveillance patrol) approaching. Rosario told Rodrigues that he would get him in trouble and quickly hid the freedom fighter in a coffin until the danger subsided. Rodrigues never succeeded in consigning Casimiro Monteiro to a coffin.
Casimiro Monteiro tried to build a personal fortune. He was allegedly involved in contraband gold. He built the only cinema hall in Ponda. He also tried to extort money from families of certain rich victims. The fair, tall and handsome son of a leading hardware merchant died at his hands. Some wealthy businessmen enjoyed fail safe insurance against high-handedness of colonial officialdom – thanks to their idle and bored wives back home. Knowledgeable sources of the time (the mid-20th century) say that high society women were invariably enamoured by the Portuguese military officer’s uniform. Hardly surprising that offspring at times resembled Europeans. A Portuguese-language ditty was popular in Panjim at the time:
Se todo o cabrão trouxer na ponta do corno um lampião,
Ó minha mãe, ó minha mãe, que grande seria a iluminação!
(If every cuckold donned a lantern at the end of his horn,
Oh mother! Oh mother! How bright would the streets be!)
Consenting husbands / cheating wives and Portuguese casanovas were one thing. PIDE and Casimiro Monteiro were quite another – they were above even the highest ranking military officer in Goa serving as the Governor-General. There was no sure fire insurance from the PIDE and Casimiro Monteiro!
Downfall of the state terrorist came after he was seriously wounded in an operation. Monteiro and 40 armed secret service guards took on two AGD activists, Bapu Gawas and Bala Desai at Hali-Chandel in Pernem. The Goan duo fought valiantly, killing five and injuring Monteiro, before they were shot dead. Monteiro went to Portugal for medical treatment.
BOMBS IN GOA
MILITARY officials whose local paramour families had fallen victim and a former PIDE colleague in Goa complained about Monteiro’s misdeeds to the Goa Governor-General. He was accused of 50 crimes in Goa alone. After due enquiry, Monteiro was dismissed by the Ministry of Overseas (Colaço, 2017, Pages 33-34). He was later reinstated and continued his activities, especially in liquidating political opponents of the ruling regime, both in Portugal and Portuguese Africa. On June 20, 1964 some bombs went off in Goa. It was said to be the handiwork of Casimiro Monteiro and Ismail Dias, a Goan settled in Portugal.
To trace the genealogy of Casimiro Monteiro, one needs to go back to the 19th century when a Portuguese Brazilian, Francisco Xavier Alvares Castro Roso (pronounced Rôzo), fleeing the long arm of the law for an alleged major crime, bought a ship, packed it with merchandise and sailed for Goa. He sold the merchandise and the ship, and settled in Ponda. Roso and his wife Maria Natalia de Jesus Lourenço had four daughters. According to this author’s nonagenarian friend from Curtorim, Rafael Viegas, one daughter married an Antao from Chandor, the second a Menezes from Raia, the third an Amaral from Ponda and the youngest – Maria Florencia da Piedade de Araujo Alvares Castro Roso, born in Margao – married José Teles Jordão Monteiro, a Ponda-based Second Sergeant.
The “Teles Jordão Monteiro” hailed from Guarda in Portugal. José was born in Chaves-Portugal circa 1875. When transferred he shifted with his wife to Panjim. It was here that Casimiro, their fourth son, and Anibal, also a PIDE agent but a straight man, were born. (Part genealogy is borrowed from Dr Jorge Forjaz and Dr José Francisco de Noronha in Luso-Descendentes da Índia Portuguesa, Vol. III, Fundação Oriente, Pages 873 to 880 – thanks to Adv. Fernando Colaço). Roso was changed to “Rosa” in the name of Casimiro Monteiro. He was legally wedded to a Scotswoman, daughter of a butcher he worked for when in England.
Portuguese author Dalila Cabrita Mateus in her 2004 book, “A PIDE/DGS na guerra colonial (1961-1974)” (PIDE/DGS in the colonial war (1961-1974), DGS is acronym for Direção Geral de Segurança or Directorate General of Security, of which PIDE was an arm) says that Monteiro was born in December 20, 1920 in Panjim, Goa. He enlisted in the Portuguese Army, which he deserted and fled to Italy, joining the Foreign Legion. (See the sketch by advocate Colaço, above.)
AROUND 1950 he returned to Portugal. He joined the PIDE and eventually arrived in Goa. When he left for medical treatment in Portugal, a former PIDE colleague denounced his brutality and violence and presented material stolen by Monteiro in London. GNR Colonel Miguel Mota Carmo conducted the inquiry, and after examining evidence of various crimes – torture, murders, extortion and rape of women committed in Goa – ordered the arrest of Monteiro, who was incarcerated at the Trafaria military prison in Portugal.
Eventually acquitted, Dalila Cabrita Mateus tells us that Casimiro Monteiro was recruited by Hermes Oliveira, for the post 1961 Operation Namasté meant to organize armed resistance to the Indian Union and liquidate the opponents of Portugal. Monteiro arrived in Goa and unleashed bomb terrorism and executed Goans who had collaborated with India. He managed to get a Goan freedom fighter to a meeting near the Daman border, pretending to convince him to take control of the erstwhile Portuguese territories as governor. The Goan was overpowered, gagged and tied to the back of a horse, but was released on orders from Lisbon (Mateus, 2004, Pages 172-174).
After Op Namasté, Monteiro returned to Portugal in November 1964 and, though not qualified, became a PIDE brigade leader. He routinely bumped off opponents of the regime. He travelled with Rosa Casaco to Paris, tailing the former Portuguese Air Force chief, General Humberto Delgado (who had crossed swords with Salazar in the 1958 Presidential election, taken political asylum in Brazil in 1959 and later shifted to Europe). Casimiro Monteiro shot General Delgado and strangled his Brazilian secretary, both to death, on February 13, 1965 near Badajoz in Spain. He went to Tanzania in February 1969 and got Eduardo Mondlane, the Mozambican leader and president of Frelimo. In the wake of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in 1974, Monteiro fled to political asylum in South Africa and became almost blind and destitute. He died unsung at Richards Bay in Natal on January 25, 1993.
(Excerpted from revised text of the book, ‘Patriotism In Action: Goans in India’s Defence Services’ by Valmiki Faleiro, first published in 2010 by ‘Goa 1556’ (ISBN: 978-93-80739-06-9). Revised edition awaits publication).