The Tale Of Captain Who Went Down With His Ship
Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla MVC
Some of you but not most of you have heard about the story of Capt Mulla who taught us not only how to live but also how to die. This is during the time of 1971 Indo-Pak war. On December 9 INS Khukri went down in the Arabian Sea after being torpedoed by a Pakistani submarine. Eighteen officers and 176 sailors went down with it, including the Khukri‘s Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla.
Brief History About Captain Mulla
- Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla was born on the 15th of May, 1926 in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to a lawyer’s family.
- When Capt Mulla was young, he too had interest in the profession of law, but as he grew older his interest veered towards the Armed Forces.
- At 20 he passed the intermediate exam and was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 1, 1948.
- Capt Mulla was trained for four years in the UK and on his return , he served as an executive officer of a minesweeper. He served on board INS Krishna for three years.
- Capt Mulla held various important appointments during his service career which included, Officer-in-Charge of Naval appointments at Naval Headquarters, Deputy Naval Adviser to the Indian High Commissioner in London for three years and executive officer of naval shore establishment INS Angre at Bombay.
- In February 1971, he joined INS Khukri and took over as Captain of the ship.
1971 War Details
- The Indo-Pak war in 1971 escalated in December. on the 3rdof December, the naval communications department detected the presence of a Pakistani submersible.
- two of the three Indian combat vessels were deployed to ensure that the threat of the submersible was effectively deactivated.
- The Pakistani submersible Hangor was equipped with sensory systems and artillery, contrary the Indian sensory equipments aboard the vessel were just being up-graded which reduced the ship’s speed on water. Decreased speed levels were required to ensure that the sensory systems could function effectively.
- Quick succession of torpedoes fired the war ship ensured that it was completely destroyed along with the many men aboard it.
- There were two massive explosions inside the Khukri and the ship went dark. It lost all power and began to tilt steeply.
Capt Mulla Act of Bravery
- Captain Mulla was apparently absolutely cool and calm as he helped other surviors to vacate the ship. He displayed exemplary bravery trying to save as many of his men as he could. He personally ensured the safety of his men by ushering them to lifeboats.
- The captain of the ship, Captain M.N. Mulla chose not to be rescued and was part of the over-100 men who died when the ship sunk. For his efforts, Captain Mulla was awarded one of the highest Indian military gallantry awards – the Mahavir Chakra – posthumously. The survivors of the Khukri were rescued by the INS Kirpan.
- After the loss to the Khukri, the Indian navy ships did wreck havoc on the Pakistani port. To their credit, the loss of the Khukri was the only achievement that the Pakistani navy got.
“In this brave and heroic action, Captain Mulla teaches us not only how to live, but how to die. The principles and values which he stood and lived for need to be taken on board by all of us so that we can become better citizens of this great country.
The manner in which he died upholds the highest the traditions of the armed forces and exemplifies the upper limits of cold courage. He believed that the nation comes first, that the men he commands come next, and his safety comes last.”
- The INS Khukri lies at the bottom of the Arabian Sea a few miles away from Diu, where it sunk. In memoriam of the Khukri, a war monument has been erected. The monument is located on top of a hill and directly opposite it is the actual sinking site of the Khukri. The monument was inaugurated in the year 1999, 28 years after the tragedy occurred.