Shah Rukh Khan's next production salutes Indian soldiers, recreating one of our most successful and daring operations in West Africa; the film will roll later this year
Roshmila Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 8, 2017)

The fauji is back in battle. After Raees, Mirror has learnt that Shah Rukh Khan's production house is busy with a project which will salute the courage and daring of the Indian Army and the Air Force by recreating on celluloid one of our most successful missions, 'Operation Khukri', in Sierra Leone in 2000.

The Indian 58th Gorkha Rifles, 14th Mechanised Infantry and elements of the 23rd Mechanised Infantry, together designated as INDBATT-1, had been sent to West Africa as part of a UN peacekeeping mission to help the local government disarm the notorious rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Two rifle companies kept as a Quick Reaction Force, along with elements of the 9th Para (SF), were added to the Indian forces. By mid-April 2000, two of the companies of INDBATT-1 were deployed in Kailahun, while the rest were dispatched to Daru.

On May 1, the rebels attacked and captured Kenyan soldiers forces at Makeni. Due to a communication gap, some of the INDBATT-1 commanders in Kailahun were also taken captive. While some were released within 10 days, a few, including those who had gone to negotiate, were taken into 'honourable custody' by the RUF.

The situation worsened as the rebels disarmed 500 Kenyan peacekeepers and began advancing towards Freetown. While the British troops evacuated the civilians there, Indian soldiers were sent to Magburaka where they rescued several Kenyans in successful ambushes. But back in Kailahun, two companies of the 58th Gorkha Rifles remained in their base camp, surrounded by hundreds of armed and barbaric rebels. For 75 days, negotiations for the release of the 223 peacekeepers continued. The Nigerians took particular pleasure from the misery of the Indian soldiers.When all negotiations failed, despite the Americans and British advocating patience and restraint, India decided to take matters into its hands to rescue the soldiers. 'Operation Khukri' was launched, in a tropical forest in West Africa, to break the siege at Kailahun. The IAF was given the responsibility, along with several restraints, and lead by Group Captain BS Siwach AVSM VM carried out the operation on July 15 and 16, 2000. About 120 Special Force operators commanded by Major (now Lt. Col.) Harinder Sood were airlifted from Delhi to spearhead the initiative to rescue the 223 men. The near impossible, soft rescue mission, carried out along with UNAMSIL forces which consisted largely of Indian peacekeepers, was a success. During the operation, the IAF contingent flew a total of 98 sorties over 66:05 hours. There were no Indian and Nepali casualties, no injuries other than a few shrapnel wounds.

A source from Red Chillies Entertainment told Mirror that a lot of time has been spent developing the script in association with Azure Entertainment. “It has been researched extensively and will be mounted on a really large scale. It will be a true depiction of a massive military operation and will celebrate our heroes. The director and cast are being finalised, the film will roll later this year,“ informed the source, adding that the ambitious project is among the most expensive SRK's production house has undertaken. “It will be shot in real locations in Africa with some real armed combat battle scenes.“