Real Raazi Story: Who is the Real-Life Kashmiri Army Officer and Sehmat?

Bollywood movie Raazi, starring Alia Bhatt, has hit the box office with rave reviews. Raazi is a real story of a Kashmiri intelligence officer who spied for India during the 1971 war. The story of Raazi has been adapted into a movie from Retired Lt. Commander Harinder Sikka’s debut novel – Calling Sehmat. The book and the movie Raazi is about a Kashmiri girl who marries into a military family in Pakistan and becomes an Indian spy.

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Harinder Sikka, the author, came to know about the ‘Spy Princess’ during the Kargil dispute and named her Sehmat Khan to protect her identity. The novel talks about the unusual life of Sehmat, an Indian spy from Kashmir, who operated in Pakistan during the India-Pakistan 1971 war.

How did Sikka Unravel the Raazi Story?

Harinder Sikka is a former officer of the Indian Navy. During the Kargil war of 1999, he was right in the conflicted area to write and report media articles about the alleged failure of the Army’s intelligence in the area. As reported in the Hindustan Times, Sikka recalls:

“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.”

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Sikka is now the Director of Corporate Issues at Nicholas Piramal. He says that even years later, he kept thinking about the courageous act of the Kashmiri woman. He then, after numerous efforts, managed to meet her at her home in Punjab. In fact, what revealed was that it was Sehmat Khan’s timely information that saved the INS Viraat from sinking. After collecting all the information, it took Sikka about 8 years to weave it all into a fictional story, to continue protecting her identity and family.

Sikka also wonders about the sheer patriotism of Sehmat’s father, a rich Kashmiri businessman, who pushed his daughter to take up a dangerous task for the sake of his country. Sikka says that his novel is about the real essence of patriotism shown by Sehmat Khan and her family, and also about the loyalty of the Kashmiris for India. But who is Sehmat and who is that Indian army officer from Kashmir might be never known!

The Raazi Story – Movie Review

With a strong star cast, the Raazi movie hit the theatres this weekend. It is a real story adapted from Sikka’s book. It is a quintessential Bollywood movie, with the essence of being ‘real’. The movie highlights the theme of patriotism and how at the core of it the meaning is the same, no matter which side of the border one is. There is tension, drama, and a multitude of emotions that keep the audiences involved. From a broader perspective, India-Pakistan is today filled with anger and hatred. A movie such as Raazi beautifully depicts what real patriotism is.

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