Mohan Narayan Rao Samant (popularly known as M.N.R. Samant) was born on
19 October 1930 and was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1952 in the submarine branch. He successfully commissioned India’s third submarine INS Karanj in 1969 and was a well-reputed and devoted officer of Indian Navy.
During the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, he was Officer-in-charge of a covert naval unit under the Directorate of Naval Intelligence based in Calcutta. He, as Commandant of the training establishment, was assigned the task of training 515 Mukti Bahini volunteers as naval commandoes in Plassey near Bhagirathi River. Capt Samant along with his team remained deeply involved in training the Mukti Bahini volunteers who were soon transformed into high quality naval commandoes. They were trained in handling of weapons, mines, sustained period of swimming, carrying mines on their bellies and planting those on the body of the ships at night. These naval commandoes successfully attacked and destroyed Pakistan forces vessels, logistic vessels, ferries, port facilities, bridges, etc. and created havoc in the logistic line of Pakistani forces. In addition, he accompanied the naval commandoes in various operations by leading them from the front, taking personal risk in the dangerous missions. It is estimated that nearly 1,00,000 tons of Pakistani arms and ammunition, logistic supplies, etc. were disabled by these naval commandoes.
For his outstanding courage and capability in the operations, he was awarded theMaha Vir Chakra by the Government of India.
Capt Samant played a major role in organising the Bangladesh Navy in 1971 and also in leading the operations with the Mukti Bahini. He led the small formation with three Mukti Bahini gunboats in Pasur River for destroying Pakistani vessels and naval establishments. He lost 2 of the three gunboats during an unfortunate and mistaken attack from own air force. Under this situation he played a major role the recovery and rescue of the survivors.
For his great contribution in the Liberation War of Bangladesh, Captain M.N.R.Samant MVC was awarded with Friends of Liberation War Honour by the Government of Bangladesh on 24 March 2013.
On 20 March 2019 at 1155 hours, this great legend of India and Bangladesh breathed his last at the age of 89 in Mumbai. As an able commander, he had infused hope to all under his command and to his associates during war and later during peace.
His actions made him into a true soldier in every sense of the word. Those of us who knew this war hero closely remember him as a brave and determined individual with a fine sense of humour, sharp memory and a deep voice. His great contribution in helping suffering humanity will be remembered by Bangladesh for long days to come. His death is a sad valediction but the new generation will salute him every fresh morning.
We all salute Captain M.N.R. Samant, MVC.
Lt. Col. (Retd.) Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir, Bir Protik, is a veteran from the Bangladesh Army. Recipient of highest national honour of Bangladesh ‘Swadhinata Padak’, he is a researcher on the Liberation War. In 1971, he defected from the Pakistan Army, crossed over to India and fought with 2 Field Battery in Sylhet, for which he was awarded Bir Protik for gallantry in battle. He was the Project Director of Bangladesh Army. He regularly addresses seminars in Bangladesh and abroad. He has authored 44 books