P. D. Gaitonde

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P.D. Gaitonde (1913 – 1992) was a surgeon from Goa, India, jailed during Portuguese rule for a protest statement he made while holding office in this region along the west coast of India. He was born in the southernmost district of Canacona and married Edila Dutra de Andrade, a European from the Açores.

Pundalik (or Pundolica) D Gaitonde received his medical education first in Goa and Bombay and later proceeded to Lisbon in 1938 for further studies. He specialised in surgery and did research on the treatment of cancer.

On his return to Goa, then still a territory of Portugal in 1948, he was appointed Surgeon-Director of the Hospital dos Milagres in Mapusa, the main commercial town in North Goa. He was arrested and deported to Portugal in 1954 for a protest during an official speech.

On his release in 1955, Gaitonde returned to India and settled in New Delhi. He worked as the honorary senior surgeon at the Irwin Hospital, and was responsible for the creation of the Cancer Unit, which he headed.

In 1960 he was elected president of the National Congress (Goa), a group participating in the Goa liberation movement by non-violent means. He was the secretary-general of the Conference of the Nationalist Organisations of the Portuguese Colonies at Casablanca in 1961.

In that capacity, he visited several countries including the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Sweden and USSR, and was at the United Nations representing the case of Portuguese colonies in general and Goa in particular. His campaigns lead to the Seminar on Portuguese Colonies organised in New Delhi.

After the forceful annexation of Goa by India in 1961, he became the first nominated member of Parliament for Goa, and also a member of the Goa Planning Board. He subsequently lived in retirement in London, and spent time on the study of the history of medicine and East-West relations during the sixteenth century.

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