Calling Sehmat, tells the true tale of an Indian spy who was solely responsible for saving the country from losing the 1971 Indo-Pak naval war. Sikka spends the first few chapters establishing that Sehmat is a vehemently patriotic woman
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Calling Sehmat, true tale of an Indian spy

Saving the country from losing the 1971 Indo-Pak naval war.

Calling Sehmat is the 2008 spy thriller novel written by Harinder S. Sikka based on real events. It was Sikka’s debut novel, first published by Konark publishers in April 2008. A revised edition was subsequently published by Penguin Random House India in May 2018. The setting seems almost unreal. Harinder Sikka’s debut novel, Calling Sehmat, tells the true tale of an Indian spy who was solely responsible for saving the country from losing the 1971 Indo-Pak naval war. Sikka spends the first few chapters establishing that Sehmat is a vehemently patriotic woman.

Born to a Kashmiri Muslim father and a Hindu mother, Sehmat is taught from the very beginning that love and dedication to the country is the highest form of worship. Her father, Hidayat, plays a vital role in establishing a spy network in Pakistan before he sends in his greatest weapon – the affable Sehmat, much to the chagrin of her mother Tej.

These first few chapters are extremely important to understand why the young Sehmat agreed to be married to a high ranking official in Pakistan, even though she loved someone else. It is also important to note that Sehmat is never coerced into the job; she proudly exercises a choice that is probably influenced by her patriotic upbringing.

Eventually, the novel delves into the minute details of Sehmat’s time in Pakistan and her sham marriage to gather information. Sehmat eventually stumbles upon plans that mention the sinking of the INS Vikrant, a vessel that is the pride of the Indian navy. How she gets that information across to the Indian side comprises a major portion of the novel.

Read the book with the film (Raazi) playing at the background of the mind. Both the book as well as the film had the same kind of flow that keeps us moving with the pace of events and incidents unfolding in the story.

A truly inspirational story of a selfless woman who battled between her moral right and ethical right and yet chose for her “ultimate right”.. ki “watan ke aage kuch bhi nahi”!! A brilliant piece of work!!

This review is written by Ambika Singh Rajawat a 9th standard student.
Here is an excerpt from the book

It was now the Navy Chief’s turn to get in on the act. After all, the Indian intelligence services were not supposed to decide where and how the naval fleet would move. Analysing the enemy submarine positions on the chart, the Admiral lifted the model from its position at the Cochin harbour and positioned it at the Andaman harbour. His face displayed tension, unhappiness and wrinkles of dissatisfaction. ‘I hope your intelligence report is correct, Mir. The carrier has some boiler problems. This move will practically put her out of a job.’

‘The information is correct, Admiral,’ replied Mir almost immediately. ‘We are lucky to be forewarned, for these subs are not easy to detect.’ Mir’s mind was racing in all directions, his thoughts invariably hovering around Sehmat’s safety. He was almost certain that Sehmat was in grave danger. She couldn’t have transmitted such a long message so accurately without it getting picked up by enemy receivers as well. Plus her ‘do or die’ attitude over the past few days had further added to his fears. Excusing himself, he left the war room and rushed to his office. He tried to reach the Indian Embassy in Pakistan, but each time the call got disconnected. ‘Bastards!’ he spat aloud and pressed the intercom button as hard as he could with his right thumb.

Startled, Javed, his assistant, came running in. ‘Call the Indian Embassy. Tell the High Commissioner that I am reaching Islamabad by the first flight tomorrow.’

‘Yes, Sir,’ Javed replied and took the receiver from Mir’s hand, replacing it on the cradle. It was rare to see his boss, who always maintained his composure during trying circumstances, so shaken up. Without uttering a word, he left the room. Moments later, Javed was busy cancelling Mir’s appointments for the rest of the day, including the dinner that his boss was hosting for his daughter’s in-laws.

Back in the briefing room, the Navy Chief was huddled with the other Admirals, brainstorming on the numerous probabilities and options. In comparison to the army, theirs was a younger and more inexperienced force that had never been put to the test. The lone aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, was one of their main weapons, capable of launching air attacks from the middle of the ocean. But it was also vulnerable to submarine attack and thus needed to be protected first. Any damage to the floating airstrip could not only result in the loss of thousands of men on board, it could also demoralize and severely embarrass the armed forces. For Pakistan, on the other hand, Vikrant was the coveted trophy they aspired to acquire. Having faced defeat in every showdown in the past, its desperate Generals were pushing hard to level scores at any cost.

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