INS Khukri survivor bats for his captain at Diu memorial
Posted: Mon Jan 09 2012, 02:55 hrs Rajkot:
On Sunday, the tourists who visited INS Khukri Memorial at Diu had a special guide in Pritam Singh to narrate the story of this ill-fated ship, which sank with 18 officers and 176 sailors 40 nautical miles off Diu after being torpedoed on December 9, 1971, during the Indo-Pak war.
Singh (64), one of the 70 survivors and the only one to ever visit this memorial, gave this voluntarily service for two reasons close to his heart: firstly, to personally pay tribute to his colleagues and seniors, and secondly, to clear recent controversy surrounding his former captain that raised questions about possible aversion of the disaster.
“It’s an emotional moment for me. From here, I would like to speak for my captain,” he said, adding, “I had been planning to come here for a long time and speak about the incident. And finally, I did so.”
Singh, who used to look after electronic equipment on Khukri, retried from Navy in 1975 and joined Merchant Navy. He is now settled in his native Moga village in Punjab.
Referring to a leaked Naval report during 2005-2006 and a book, Sinking of Khukri: Survivals Stories, that had raised some doubts, Singh told tourists at the memorial, “It pains when I hear that my then Captain M N Mulla, who was later awarded gallantry award, Mahavir Chakra, might have saved the ship had he opted for a different strategy.”
“Some blame Mulla for reducing speed of the ship that led to the attack. It was not his decision, but of an engineer specially deployed by the administration... Mulla kept telling others till the last minute to abandoned the ship and take the rafts,” he added.
Singh maintained that Khukri’s sonar set could detect only up to 3,000 yards and it was no match to Pakistan’s Hangor submarine that could fire up to 6 km. “I was taking news update on Doordarshan at 9 pm when the first torpedo hit us. It was soon followed by two more.”
According to Singh, the ship took just three minutes to go down and there was not even time to throw inflated liferafts in the sea. Seventy crew members got hold of some rafts thanks to the automatic release system. They spent the whole night in the sea and were rescued by another naval ship Kirpan in the morning, he said.
Singh also spoke for Kirpan’s captain R R Sood. “Some people say Kirpan should have picked us up in the night itself. But I believe Captain Sood took the right decision to not stop, which saved lives of 240 people on board his ship.”
Singh, who plans to spend two days at Union Territory of Diu, wished to get in touch with all the survivors. “I am in touch with only two of them. Wish I could know about others, too,” he told The Indian Express.http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ins-k ... l/897492/0