The trailer of Alia Bhatt’s upcoming film Raazi has taken the social media by storm and we aren’t surprised. After all, the actress has given us a glimpse of her another blockbuster in making. Fans can’t wait for the film to release, but no matter how eager they are, they’ll have to wait for another month to experience Alia’s acting finesse. Before Raazi hits the silverscreen, let’s do some homework. Do you know about Sehmat, the Indian spy who inspired Alia Bhatt’s role in Raazi?
The fact that Raazi is based on a real-life story dating back to 1971 Indo-Pak war makes the film more intriguing than anything else. It is based on Harinder Sikka’s novel Calling Sehmat.
The former Lietenant Commander of Indian Navy published the book in 2008 about a Kashmiri woman was married off to a Pakistani officer to draw information about the rival countries war strategy. She delivered classified information back to India during the Indo-Pakistan war.
Who was Sehmat?
In an interview to The Hindu, Harinder Sikka narrated how he met the Indian spy Sehmat (name changed) whose story inspired him to write a novel.
During the war, Sikka went to Kargil to do a media piece on the supposed intelligence failure of the Army that he came to know about. He was sceptical of the patriotism of the people towards the country but after he came across Sehmat, a normal Indian who risked her life to provide Indian army with classified information, his belief was completely turned over.
“I was very angry then and even questioned the patriotism of certain people in the Intelligence Department. There, during one such discussion, an Army officer told me that not everyone is the same. I was not too convinced about it upon which he gave the example of his mother, much to my surprise. She married a Pakistani Army officer to provide India with classified information during the 1971 war. She was a Kashmiri Muslim,” Sikka told The Hindu.
“Kargil passed by but I often thought about the daring act of this woman undercover who returned to the country, pregnant with the child of her Pakistani husband, and bore the Indian Army a good officer,” he continued.
Sikka later met the audacious woman at her residence in Maler Kotla in Punjab.
“But she would not speak much. Slowly, she opened up but I still don’t know how she managed to take out such secret information from Pakistani intelligence. All the information she passed on from there matched with the Indian intelligence report here,” he adds.
Sehmat used to tutor General Yahya Khan’s grandchildren.
How Sehmat saved India’s pride INS Viraat?
The most crucial information Sehmat provided during her stay with her Pakistani husband was about an impending attack on INS Viraat. India was able to save its biggest pride because of Sehmat only, said Harinder Sikka.
Sinking INS Viraat would have been a major blow from Pakistan to Indian army. The warship served as a helicopter carrier, anti-submarine and was equipped with many useful electronic tools which were used by the army during wars. Sehmat’s information was a turning point of Indo-Pakistan war.
Sehmat is no more now and her son serves the Indian army. It took Sikka eight years to fictionalise her story and helm a story with a cohesive narrative.
“It was important to fictionalise it as it would have been dangerous for her family.”
“I am yet to fathom how Sehmat’s father, a rich businessman in Kashmir then, could push his daughter to do such a dangerous thing. It was the ultimate test of patriotism for the family. Despite being an ex-soldier myself, I feel proud to admit that I learnt the real meaning of patriotism from her story.” She was meant to be just a facilitator for the Indian Intelligence, but she went far ahead of it, he states. In return for her service to the nation, all she wanted was to unfurl the Indian tricolour at her house. “Till her death, she did it, unofficially,” saying this, Sikka signs off.