Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla was an Indian Navy officer who died in Indo- Pak war of 1971. He was the captain of the ship INS Khukri. This Indian Blackwood anti-submarine warship was deployed to fight against Pakistan during the Operation Trident for general people it was the war of 1971. INS Kukri and its captain Mahendra Nath Mulla is that history which Indian Navy never forget. It is a fascinating thrilling battle story which salutes courage. Captain M N Mulla is a model of courage and a great leader who fought courageously and faced all challenges of Pakistan. Finally he went down with his ship and other fellow officers during the war. He was given Maha Vir Chakra respectively for showing noticeable chivalry and devotion to his duty.
It was December 9, 1971, when the violent war took place between India and Pakistan in 40 nautical miles away of the coast of Diu in Arabian Sea. Two ships of the Indian Navy Khukri and Kirpan under the captaincy of MN Mulla were allocated the task to locate and destroy the Pak submarine PNS Hangor. Ruined by Pakistani Submarine PNS Hangor, INS Khukri was the only ship to sink to continue this battle. But INS Khukri was hit by threetorpedoes fired by the Pakistani submarine and submerged into the sea. Captain MN Mulla decided not to abandon the ship. He didn’t care of his safety and supervise all the rescue operations with very calm mind and methodical manner. Captain Mulla stayed on the deck. He ordered his men to leave the ship and jump into the icy water of Arabian Sea to save them. But he didn’t leave the ship. He passed his own life saving jacket to a sailor. He went back to the bridge to see what further rescue operations can do to save other officers and sailors. Even at the later phase, while the ship was drowninghe showed his presence of mind and tried to save as many as sailors he can. Captain Mulla was last seen going down with his ship. He fought and died with the honour of a great leader and the captain of the ship at 8.45 pm when Khukri sank into the Arabian Sea. He chose to stay with his 18 officers and 176 sailors. They all went down with the ship. Still now he is the only Indian captain who went down with his ship for watery grave. He set the example of bravery to the Indian Navy and to the whole nation. He taught naval officers not only how to live but how to die. India is proud to have a son like captain MN Mulla and the story of his courage and his story of Khukri.
One of the survivors’ Commander Manu Sharma has not forgotten the night of December 9. Once he said in an interview that, he remembered when the ship was sinking after being hit by the Pakistani submarine PNS Hangor, there was a small doorway escape from where they were pulling the sailors and everyone was trying to save his life. That is the moment when he cried. His captain MN Mulla pushed him and lieutenant Kundan Mall. Captain also said them to go ahead without thinking of him. On that time he saw that captain Mulla was holding the railing of the ship with a cigar in his mouth.
A memorial function was organized where the book was released on what happened to the Khukri . The book ‘The sinking of INS Khukri-Survivors’ stories’ was written by Maj. Gen. (retd.) Ian Cardozo. According to the book, combinations of different factors are responsible for the loss of the warship. The warship was tailored with experimental radar that slowed its speed on that war mission. It was a great opportunity for the Pakistan to destroy the war ship. The submarine of Pakistan was encouraged further by the failure of the implementation of the standard operating procedure. The submarine hunters Sea King helicopters were not under the supervision of Captain Mulla. These helicopters failed to do any action and went back to the coast for running out of fuel and stores. This was the major reason of Khukri’s watery grave. Sea King helicopters were the strength of the troop. When they left the squadron were helpless to the submarine. According to Commander Manu Sharma, When Sea Kings were operating there in the mission Pakistani submarine Hangor did not surface. Later on that evening it became powerful when Pakistan found that Sea Kings were not in the mission. Hangor became more dominant and started firing. Commander Sharma also disclosed that the Khukri was hit because of its Captain ordered the slow movement for the performance of that experimental war equipment which were mounted on the ship the sonar. When the submarine Hangor fired at the Khukri, that time Khukri was experimenting the improved version of the sonar.
Mahendra Nath Mulla was born in Uttar Pradesh and joined in the Indian Navy on May 1st, 1948 in 22 years of his age.
Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla was awarded Maha Vir Chakra by the Indian Government to respect him for his bravery and devotion to the duty. Indian Navy decided to honour the sacrifices of INS Khukri. A memorial establishing an entire model of INS Khukri , which is 15 meters long, two meters wide and seven feet tall and it is faced at the area where the team of Captain MN Mulla fought bravely. It is situated on a small hill facing the Arabian Sea at Diu. It was inaugurated by Vice Admiral Madhvendra Singh, in 1999 during his period as FOC-in C Western Naval Command. On the Golden Jubilee of the Republic day, Indian Post Office published a stamp on Captain Mulla to pay the tribute to the bravery and sacrifice for his country. Admiral Madhvendra Singh, former Chief of the Naval Staff inaugurated ‘Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla Auditorium’ at Navy Nagar in Mumbai. It is a 968 seated, air conditioned auditorium.