Capt Mulla

Date of Birth : May 15, 1926

Place of birth : Gorakhpur, (UP)

Last Rank : Captain

Arm/Regt : Indian Navy

Operation : Op Trident

Awards : Maha Vir Chakra

Martyrdom : December 9, 1971

Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla MVC

Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla was born on the 15th of May, 1926 in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to a lawyer’s family wherein his father Sri Tej Narain Mulla was a judge in the High Court and his elder brother a lawyer. His uncle Sri Anand Narain Mulla too was a lawyer and was a member of Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. 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 the age of 20, he passed the intermediate exam and joined the Royal Indian Navy as a cadet in January 1946. He underwent training in the United Kingdom and was commissioned into the Royal Indian Navy on May 1, 1948.

 

He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 16 September 1958 and later in April 1961 got selected for the prestigious Defence Services Staff College(DSSC) Wellington. He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June 1964. He also 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. He also served as commanding officer of the destroyer INS Rana besides a tenure at Naval Headquarters in the Directorate of Naval Plans. Capt Mulla also proved to be an excellent defence counsel in courts-martial proceedings in the service. Among other interests, he enjoyed Urdu poetry as well. In February 1971, he joined INS Khukri and took over as Captain of the ship.

 

Operation Trident (Indo-Pak war): 09 Dec 1971

 

When the Indo-Pak War of 1971 broke out, Capt Mulla was commanding a task force of two ships in the Western Fleet. The task force had the responsibility of hunting and neutralizing enemy submarines in the North Arabian Sea. The Indian Naval radio detection equipment identified a submarine in the vicinity of Diu harbour on 03rd Dec 1971.  Following this, INS Khukri along with two other ships INS Kirpan and INS Kuthar were dispatched to take on the threat of the enemy submarine.

 

In the late evening of 9th December, INS Khukri was attacked by the Pakistani submarine PNS Hangoor which fired torpedoes at it, causing devastating damage. What made the Indian vessel an easy target for enemy torpedoes was the presence of an experimental sonar equipment aboard that had been specially deployed for research. The limitations placed by this equipment had drastically slowed down the movement of INS Khukri to the submarine-detectable speed of 12 knots.  Also, INS Khukri‘s sonar set had a detection range up to 3,000 yards, whereas PNS Hangor could fire from distances of nearly six kilometers.

 

Capt Mulla evaluated the situation within minutes and issued orders for its abandonment. There were two massive explosions inside the Khukri and the ship went dark. It lost all power and began to tilt steeply to its right (Starboard) as chaos followed the order of ‘abandon ship’. But in all this, Captain Mulla was apparently absolutely cool and calm as he awaited for the worst to follow; helping as many survivors to leave the ship. He displayed exemplary bravery trying to save as many of his men as he could. He directed his second-in-command to cast lifeboats, rafts and buoys into the sea, following which he personally ensured the safety of his men by ushering them to lifeboats.

 

INS Khukri sank within minutes, taking 176 sailors and 18 officers, and the ship’s captain, to their watery graves in the Arabian Sea. But Capt Mulla was such a true leader that he would not abandon his ship and the men who were trapped on it. During the last minutes of his life, Capt Mulla showed extraordinary courage, helping save as many of his men as he could and not abandoning his vessel. Injured, and with his head bleeding, he went down with his ship. Capt Mulla’s cool, calm and resolute composure during the crisis, lifted the morale of not just the surviving crew but the entire Navy and armed forces in general for years to come. Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla was given the Indian Navy’s first and nation’s second highest gallantry award, “Maha Vir Chakra” for his outstanding courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice.

 

Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla is survived by his daughter Smt Ameeta Mulla Wattal.

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12 Comments
  • Vanita Singh

    2022at2:43 pm Reply

    My tribute in the ballad THE CAPTAIN to the brave Indian Navy personnel on board the INS KHUKRI on the fateful day of 9 December 1971 has been released on Spotify and YouTube. I share the links:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcPWScZGdk4

    https://open.spotify.com/album/5RHTETym9oQ29nFchcJ3d6

  • Manohar Vasu Puthran

    2022at2:43 pm Reply

    I salute you Sir in the Navy Day occasion.

  • Manohar Vasu Puthran

    2022at2:52 pm Reply

    I salute you Sir in the Navy Day occasion.

  • Renjith VR

    2022at2:53 pm Reply

    Mere words cannot express the pride we feel to have such brave souls guarding our Nation but even more pride we feel is when we see how their families supported them to do so. You have our respects for it is the strength in you that has protected this strong Nation and its sovereignty. You are as much as a brave soul as he was.

    He lives on through his dedication and spirit for the Nation. We salute him and you for protecting us all.

    Being in Navy for almost 20 + years, and being a part of this initiative, i am feeling my self rewarded to show my gratitude to the martyr. Jai Hind. Jai Bharat

  • Mohit Chauhan

    2022at2:55 pm Reply

    मुझे कहीं से इनके परिवार का कोई संपर्क सूत्र मिल सकता है?? मैं गोरखपुर में रहता हूं, परिवार से मिलना चाहता हूं।

  • JAI KIRTI SINGH

    2022at2:56 pm Reply

    Great freedom fighter of India, a resident of Prayagraj (U.P.) . We the residents of the city are proud of him and take great pride while travelling on the road named after him that connects Nawab yusuf road to M. g. marg, previously known as Cooper road.

  • Dr Achuthan Madhav Principal Kuwait Jabriya Indian School

    2022at2:57 pm Reply

    Respects to a great son of our motherland Captan Mulla for his historical sacrifice . He established a tradition and showed the way. The nobility of love for his men , motherland was supreme. His Captaincy valour was an example and unparalleled in Indian Naval history. These souls are devine for , our motherland is abaundantly proud of them. His statue should be among the pillars of our parliament. Captain Mulla’s name should be enshrined in the Golden letters in the nations history books.These reflections must be passed on to the present and coming generations . The spirit of sacrifice and valour of National service should be part of defence curriculum while they are in defence and traditional colleges.
    Our motherland is proud of her sons like captain Mulla sir and his proud prodigies .
    JAIHIND.

  • Dr Achuthan Madhav Principal Kuwait Jabriya Indian School

    2022at2:57 pm Reply

    Salutations to Great soul of our motherland Captan Mulla for his historical sacrifice . He established a tradition and showed the way. The nobility of love for his men , motherland was supreme. His Captaincy valour was an example and unparalleled in Indian Naval history. These souls are devine for , our motherland is abaundantly proud of them. His statue should be among the pillars of our parliament. Captain Mulla’s name should be enshrined in the Golden letters in the nations history books.These reflections must be passed on to the present and coming generations . The spirit of sacrifice and valour of National service should be part of defence curriculum while they are in defence and traditional colleges.
    Our motherland is proud of her sons like captain Mulla sir and his proud prodigies .
    JAIHIND.

  • Adarsh Upadhyay

    2022at2:58 pm Reply

    The supreme sacrifice,valour and leadership will I spore the generations to come. Salute to the braveheart’s of this motherland. Sir you will remain in our hearts forever. Jai Hind,Vande Mataram.

  • Dr Prashant buch

    2022at2:59 pm Reply

    I am a middle aged gastroenterologist in Baroda. I was 12 in 1971. Today is 3rd December, I remember captain Mulla. I do hope you know there are people in India who remember him with respect. My sincere condolences [ how inadequate this sounds!] to the family.
    Dr Prashant buch

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