Truth is stranger and more thrilling than fiction
HarperCollins India brings you the explosive authentic account of the covert guerrilla operation that went for the maritime jugular of Pakistan, and facilitated the birth of Bangladesh
Captain MNR Samant (MVC)
and Sandeep Unnithan
THE HEROIC MISSION UNDERTAKEN BY CAPTAIN MNR SAMANT AND HIS BAND OF BRAVE MEN
About the Book
1971.Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in East Pakistan has just won an electoral mandate to become the prime minister of Pakistan. Accustomed to treating the eastern wing of the country as a colony, the military dictatorship of General Yahya Khan in West Pakistan launches a genocide against the residents of its eastern wing, flooding India with lakhs of refugees. With the violence in East Pakistan reaching a crescendo, the Indian government is faced with a difficult option: remain a mute spectator to the savagery on its eastern borders, or take action and go to war against its western neighbour.
Thus was born Naval Commando Operations (X) – comprising Indian navy officers and divers, eight deserters from a Pakistani submarine, and a ragtag bunch of educated Bengali youth fleeing the genocide – one of India’s largest clandestine operations, meant to destabilize the West Pakistani efforts to bring East Pakistan to its knees.
Revealed for the very first time, here is the explosive authentic account of the covert guerrilla operation that went for the maritime jugular of Pakistan, and facilitated the birth of Bangladesh.
“I had heard from sources about the exploits of the Bangladeshi Mukti Bahini frogmen and the Indian Navy personnel in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. I was then pleasantly surprised to discover that Capt. MNR Samant (now 89), who headed the Naval Commando Operation X, was a neighbour of mine. I was introduced to him by Cdr Kapil, a mutual acquaintance. But at that point I had absolutely no idea how big the Operation X covert effort was, or how enormously significant its results were to the course of the war in 1971.
Operation X was a covert maritime warfare unit established in April 1971 and run directly by the Directorate of Naval Intelligence. The unit, a grouping of submariners, aviators and specialist divers, was tasked with waging strategic guerrilla warfare in the seas and rivers of erstwhile East Pakistan. They fought a tenacious four-month riverine guerrilla war which has few precedents in recent history, and which to a great extent determined the outcome of the 1971 war.
It took us nearly two years to put this book together. A lot of initial research had been done by Capt. Samant and Cdr Kapil, but a lot more additional information was needed. What made our task doubly difficult was the fact that almost fifty years have passed since the 1971 war: most of the principal characters are no longer there and few records have survived. Old diaries, notes and of course extensive interviews with the surviving personnel helped us reconstruct the events of 1971. Cdr Kapil and I toured Bangladesh in 2017 to visit key places associated with the operation and to meet with former naval commandos. The story that emerged was a breathtaking, thrilling one.
We hope this book will pay tribute to all the fearless men and women who fought the war for the liberation of Bangladesh.” – Sandeep Unnithan, co-author, Operation X
“It’s really exciting for us at HarperCollins to be publishing the untold story of Operation X, the covert naval intelligence operation that played a significant role in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Operation X reads like an edge-of-the-seat thriller, but everything in the book is true, and uncovered through meticulous research. The details of this stunning covert operation are now revealed to readers for the very first time. I’m truly grateful to Captain MNR Samant and Sandeep Unnithan for bringing this thrilling true story to light in such a remarkable way. This May, readers will be able to encounter an unrevealed glorious chapter of India’s naval intelligence triumph in the 1971 war with Pakistan, and appreciate the heroism and sacrifices made by the Mukti Bahini and the Indian Navy in the course of the Bangladesh Liberation War.” – Udayan Mitra, Publisher – Literary, HarperCollins India
About the Authors
Captain MNR Samant (1930-2019) was a recipient of India’s second-highest gallantry award, the Maha Vir Chakra, for conspicuous gallantry in the face of enemy fire during the 1971 India-Pakistan War. He was Staff Officer, G1 (Nav Ops X) of this covert naval warfare unit. He passed away on 20 March 2019.
Sandeep Unnithan is an executive editor with India Today where he writes on security-related issues. He is the author of Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11.