Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - Hindustan Times (Jaipur) - City - - Front Page - Tripti Pandey

From that ses­sion on the last day of the Jaipur lit­er­a­ture fes­ti­val till now, I have been think­ing of it. It was a cold rainy day. Hav­ing at­tended a ses­sion at the front lawn venue, I went in for an early lunch be­ing tempted by the post lunch ses­sion ‘Spice: His­tory of a Temp­ta­tion’. But I sud­denly found my­self at­tend­ing an­other ses­sion. It so hap­pened that at lunch, the au­thor of the book ‘We, the Drowned’ Carsten Jensen, sit­ting close by, in­vited me to his ses­sion. The ses­sion ‘We, the Drowned: Writ­ing the Sea’ was in­spired by the ti­tle of his highly re­viewed novel. I at­tended his ses­sion on the in­fi­nite land­scape of the sea, which was fas­ci­nat­ing. Jensen had called him­self the cap­tain of the ship while re­search­ing on his sub­ject. Ac­cord­ing to mar­itime cus­tom and tra­di­tion, the cap­tain goes down with the ship. So, dur­ing the ques­tion hour time, I jok­ingly asked him if he had drown too, while re­search­ing for his book “we, the Drowned’. A very ex­pe­ri­enced Navy man in the au­di­ence ad­dressed my ques­tion say­ing the tra­di­tion of cap­tain go­ing down with the sink­ing sea was no longer ap­pli­ca­ble. Sud­denly, I was re­minded of Cap­tain Mulla, who cre­ated a his­tory in post in­de­pen­dent In­dia, as the only cap­tain to have gone down with his ship that drowned. Mulla’s sac­ri­fice kept on haunting me from that day. Cou­ple of days later, an ex­ec­u­tive of a lead­ing ho­tel asked me if I had at­tended the Jaipur Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val and that brought back the ses­sion ‘We the Drowned’ in our con­ver­sa­tion. I spoke about Cap­tain Mulla to which he seemed to have ab­so­lutely no clue. It was his re­ac­tion that made me think if we have for­got­ten the val­or­ous deeds of our war he­roes. Why don’t we re­mem­ber the deeds of those who lost their fu­ture for our present, I won­dered. Since that con­ver­sa­tion, I was in­spired to know more about Cap­tain Mulla. Ini­tially, I thought Mulla was a Mus­lim. Later, I found, his real name was Mahendra Nath Mulla. Cap­tain Mahendra Nath Mulla was an of­fi­cer of the In­dian Navy and the Cap­tain of the INS Khukri, who died when his ship sank dur­ing the 1971 war. Dur­ing the 1971 Indo-pak War, Mulla was com­mand­ing a task force of two ships, which formed part of the West­ern Fleet. The task force was as­signed the task of hunt­ing and de­stroy­ing en­emy sub­marines in the North Ara­bian Sea. At 20:50 hours on De­cem­ber 9, 1971, his ves­sel, INS Khukri, was hit by tor­pe­does fired by an en­emy sub­ma­rine, about 64 kilo­me­tres off Diu. Mulla is­sued orders for the ship to be aban­doned be­cause it was sink­ing. He gave his own life-saving equip­ment to a sailor. Hav­ing di­rected many of his men as pos­si­ble to leave the sink­ing ship, he went back to the bridge to see what fur­ther res­cue op­er­a­tions could be per­formed. He was last seen go­ing down with his ship. The in­ci­dent had oc­curred just about forty two years ago. We need to know more about peo­ple like him. It is about time to pay real trib­utes to such mar­tyrs by mak­ing th­ese real sto­ries part of school cur­ricu­lum, to mo­ti­vate the youth to join the de­fence ser­vices and in­cul­cate pa­tri­o­tism in our peo­ple. Carsten had thanked me for ask­ing the ques­tion on sink­ing ship, but now I thank him for invit­ing me to his ses­sion to tell yet an­other story on the mam­moth sac­ri­fices of our na­tion he­roes.

Cap­tain Mahendra Nath Mulla

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