Unlike Indian Armed Forces taking over the Portuguese Goa, the merger of the French colony Puducherry with India was rather a peaceful and smooth. Of course, the role played by Puducherry in the freedom struggle of India does not find mention in the colossal documentation that speaks of the actual struggle on the road to freedom on mainstream India. Even the revolutionary Aurobindo Ghosh originally arrived in Puducherry from Begal in 1910, to be out of reach of the British Government. Bharathi, Aurobindo Ghosh and V.V.S. Iyer, all three who were outsiders to Puducherry combined together with some other locally based patriots to form a society of intellectuals to discuss topics on the theme of ways and means to achieve Indian independence.
The people of Union Territory of Puducherry won freedom from the foreign yoke only after seven more years of struggle after India became free on August 15, 1947. Though the erstwhile Pondicherry provided a favourable climate for the political exiles from British India for long, the people of the Union Territory had to launch a separate movement to replace the French Flag with the national tri-colour. According to a historian’s account, it was the municipal election that paved the way for the cession of the French colonies to India. Chandranagore was the first of the five enclaves which broke away by conducting a referendum in 1949 and merged with the Indian state of West Bengal.
The merger itself was democratically decided through a referendum conducted by the French administration at the border village of Kizhur to ascertain the wish of the people. On 18 October, 1954, the municipal councillors and the members of the Assembly representatives gave their verdict in favour of merger with India. Later, an agreement for the de facto transfer of the four remaining French settlements to India was signed on 21 October 1954, which came into effect on 1 November 1954. On 1 November 1954, the French possessions in India were de facto transferred to the Indian Union and Puducherry became a Union Territory. About 280 years of French rule finally came to an end. But it was only in 1963 that Puducherry officially became an integral part of India after the French Parliament in Paris ratified the Treaty with India.
The treaty was entered between France and India, establishing the cession by the French Republic to the Indian Union of the French establishments of Pondicherry, Karikal, Mahe and Yanam. The treaty was signed by the then French Ambassador Stanislas Ostrorog and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was also the Union Minister for External Affairs. The treaty says, “France cedes to India in full sovereignty the territory of the Establishments of Pondicherry, Karikal, Mahe and Yanam. The Establishments will keep the benefit of the special administrative status which was in force prior to 1 November, 1954.”
It was only in 2014, that, acceding to the demands of freedom fighters, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy declared that 1 November would be celebrated as Liberation Day of Puducherry. On 1 November 2020, Puducherry celebrated its 67th De Facto Merger (liberation) Day, which marked the former French colony's merger with Indian Union in 1954. Chief Minister V Narayanasamy unfurled the national flag at the celebration held on the Beach Road.
Chronology of Puducherry
1521 Arrival of Portuguese
1618 Dutch textile trading
1624 Danish establish shops
1664 Colbert founds the French East India Company
1674 French buy the city from the Governor of the Gingee fortress, vassal of the Muslim King of Bijapur
1686 Establishment of the first trading post on the Coromandel coast
1693 The Dutch retake the city and begin to lay out the streets in a grid pattern
1700 French trading post; the city has its peak with Dupleix
1761 English domination; the city is destroyed
1763 French trading post; the city is rebuilt
1778 English domination
1783 French trading post
1793 English domination
1815 French trading post
1954 Transfer "de facto" of French possessions to India
1956 Signature of the Treaty of Cession of French possessions between France and India
2.Puducherry Railway Station
3.The French colony Village first to vote for merger with India