Crank’s News: The March morning Raisana Hill was stirred

Two Naval units moved towards Delhi despite there being no sea

New Delhi/Vizag: This is a story we would tell with extreme care and caution. For, it starkly reflects the current state of unease among the politicos, and also us, faced as we are with a deadline pressure and also a stinging order from our Editor to come up with a matching scoop to that of the newspaper, which yesterday reported that two Army units dramatically moved towards the national capital, but eventually turned back to its base after the strategic realisation that finding parking spots large enough to accommodate armoured tanks was well nigh impossible in New Delhi.

It has taken the Crank’s News team four long hours to think up this story about those dramatic developments in New Delhi following reports of a strange and non-notified movement of two Naval units of the Eastern Command ‘in the general direction of North.’

Essentially, on a balmy morning of March, intelligence agencies reported an unexpected (and non-notified) movement by two submarines from the Eastern Command Naval unit, Vizag. To be very specific, the two belonged to the 11th (Sindhugosh Class) and 8th (Foxtrot Class) Submarine Squadrons.

Lookouts confirmed that the two submarines were headed in the general direction North, which is the general direction of the National capital, New Delhi, which was odd considering the fact that there was no sea there.

It was still a cause for curiosity and some confusion — more than much concern — because, over the decades, the ruling politicians have come to be totally relaxed and trustful of the naval leadership, mainly because most of the Naval terms and descriptions are difficult to understand for the meagre intelligence of politicos.

The situation changed rapidly, though when the top honchos realised that New Delhi may not have a sea, but what were headed towards them were submarines, which were anyway not visible even if there was a sea. Also, the defence ministry was very much aware of the fact that world over, due to the dreaded global warming, seas were rising and gobbling up land. So New Delhi was not ready to take any chance.

A bemused establishment raised an alert of sorts. The Defence Minister was informed. Immediately, the Centre put in motion an old contingency plan to delay, if not the submarines, then at least the onset of global warming and the resultant the rising of seas.

It issued a terror alert with instructions to police to carefully check all modes of water supply. And an ever-smart Delhi police, not willing to take any chances, did the most logical thing: Cut off the tapped water supply in New Delhi. It naturally raised a stink, especially in the toilets. But the objective was to stem the whiff of bigger scandal emanating from the distant Eastern Command.

The Prime Minister was informed at the crack of dawn because such a timing usually helped to dramatically intensify the impact of the news. The Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was asked to take a vacation, so that he can later cut it short, then again to heighten the drama of the occasion.

Shashi Kant opened his office late at night (cue for more pulsation) and asked Lt Gen. A K Choudhary, Director General Military Operations, to see him and explain what was going on. Gen. Choudhary, who was at that time in his gym, said it was a routine exercise.

He was asked to return with full facts about the submarines. This he did soon enough. The explanation was still the same: the Navy carrying out exercises to check its ability to make quick deployments of key units during fog under water.

The Navy’s explanation that it was all a simple fog-time exercise was then viewed with scepticism at the highest level because, as one official in the PMO said, fog is not a phenomenon in the month of March.

The Navy’s justification for the specific movements did sound plausible though. In the process, the Navy said, they discovered many glitches. These are now being ironed out, because the glitches pertained to Naval uniform getting extremely wet in water.

These are the bare facts of an unusual set of events. It is too early to answer all the ‘hows, whys and the what-nexts’ of this. Or to say whether it was an avoidable case of neurosis the Indian establishment is — mercifully — not familiar with. But when the sea waters indeed rise and reach Delhi, the establishment better be ready. It better appoint a Naval chief whose birth certificate is not under dispute.

(Disclaimer: We firmly stand by our story. We underline our credibility by underlining the word ‘story’)